YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Nver Mnatsakanian, a prominent television journalist, has become the latest target of increasingly frequent violent attacks on Armenian reporters which are largely going unpunished.
Mnatsakanian, who anchors news programs and hosts daily talk shows at the private Shant TV, was attacked and beaten up by unknown men as he returned home on Wednesday night. He suffered injuries to his head, foot and hand and required treatment in a nearby hospital.
The journalist spoke to RFE/RL at his Yerevan apartment the next morning. “I parked the car in the garage and walked home,” he said, recounting details of the incident. “I noticed two suspicious young men standing by the building’s entrance.”
“Without saying anything they started hitting me,” continued Mnatsakanian. “It didn’t last long because I started shouting and pleading for help and neighbors came out quickly. One neighbor turned on the lights and I think that scared [the attackers] as they immediately ran away.”
The Armenian police said they have opened a criminal investigation under an article of the Criminal Code that deals with assaults resulting in “bodily injuries of medium severity.” A police investigator visited and questioned Mnatsakanian on Thursday morning.
The incident occurred just one week after the beating, in similar circumstances, of Argishti Kivirian, editor of the Armenia Today online news agency. Kivirian was hospitalized with serious injuries. Nobody has been arrested in connection with the assault yet.
Mnatsakanian is the third Armenian journalist known to have been assaulted this year. Several such incidents were reported last year. Virtually none of those cases have been solved by the police.
Unlike other victims, Mnatsakanian works for a media outlet that rarely airs criticism of the Armenian authorities in its political news coverage. Opposition politicians are not frequent guests on the daily talk shows moderated by the journalist.
While linking the attack with his overall professional activities, Mnatsakanian did not think that it had a direct connection with some of his recent programs. “I can’t draw such conclusions,” he said.
One of those programs, aired earlier this week, featured pollster Aharon Adibekian, who caused a stir by predicting that Armenia’s second largest governing party led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian will fare poorly in the upcoming mayoral elections in Yerevan. Tsarukian appeared on the show the next evening to angrily rebut the pro-government pollster’s claims.