On June 14, during 168 TV’s “Review” program, journalist and director Hovhannes Ishkhanyan stated that civil society, particularly a number of media organizations, did not condemn the arrest of Bagrat Yesayan, director of Yerkir Media TV.
“When they took director of Yerkir Media to the National Security Service… From inside the building, in the US Embassy… they reported with images that they held a rally in Armenia on freedom of speech. The president of the Yerevan Press Club Boris Navasardyan was present, Nune Sargsyan from the Media Initiatives Center was there, that is, those whose activities are related to freedom of the press. But neither the Yerevan Press Club nor the Media Initiatives Center made any defending or condemning statement,” Hovhannes Ishkhanyan said.
Bagrat Yesayan was detained in his office on June 10 and taken to the NSS isolator on Nalbandyan Street. According to Yesayan’s lawyer Vahe Yeprikyan, Yesayan was charged with Article 38-225, Part 2 of the RA Criminal Code (violence or arson attack, destruction or damage of property by a participant during a riot) and Article 164, Part 1 (obstructing the journalist’s legal professional activity or forcing them to disseminate or refuse to disseminate information).
The allegations relate to the attack on RFE / RL’s Yerevan office on the night of November 10, 2020, in connection with which a criminal case was initiated.
The Fact Investigation Platform revealed that on June 13, more than a dozen media organizations, including the Yerevan Press Club and the Media Initiatives Center, issued a statement condemning Yesayan’s arrest.
The statement says that “taking into account the fact that as a participant in the above-mentioned incident, Yesayan did not obstruct the preliminary investigation and did not avoid giving testimony, it was inadmissible to detain and arrest him.”
“Especially when those actions were carried out demonstratively, in the building of the media outlet headed by Yesayan, without prior notice. In this regard, we welcome the decision of the Court of General Jurisdiction of Yerevan on June 11, which rejected the NSS motion to detain Bagrat Yesayan. Therefore, we demand that the preliminary investigation body should act exclusively within the framework of the law, and not give any reason for political speculation,” the statement reads.
Thus, Hovhannes Ishkhanyan’s assertion that the civil society and, in particular, the Media Initiatives Center and the Yerevan Press Club did not condemn the actions of law enforcement authorities against the director of “Yerkir Media” do not correspond to reality.
Hovhannes Ishkhanyan is a journalist, documentary filmmaker. He has also collaborated with civil society institutions. In particular, he was the editor of the “Like You” e-periodical of the “Public Information and Need of Knowledge” (“Pink Armenia”) human rights NGO and has been engaged in research on the situation of LGBT people in Armenia.