YEREVAN (Tert.am)—The assets of Yerkir newspaper were frozen and an investigation has been launched per a court order issued Wednesday. The newspaper’s editor said this action was an effort infringe on press freedoms.
The court ruling resulted from a libel suit filed by a by Republican Party parliament member and the owner of “Great Valley” wine and brandy company Tigran Ardzakantsian, who sued the newspaper at the Nork-Marash court claiming that an article published on January 13 smeared his name and insulted him.
Ardzakantsian is demanding 3,568,000 drams (about $9,775) in compensation; 3 million drams (about $8,219) for damages resulting from the libel; 500,000 drams (about $1,370) for legal fees; and 68,000 drams (about $186) for court fees.
The newspaper published a profile of the lawmaker as part of a regular series and pointed out his many public escapades including his regular exploits with women and his propensity for getting into fights and getting beaten up.
The same article quoted former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian, who said “that punk, with the brandy that he produces, embarrasses Armenia in Russia.”
Yerkir’s executive editor, Bagrat Yessayan said that such measures were aimed at curtailing the freedom of press and speech.
“The question is what kind of a society do we want to have? If we want a live in a swamp—a society in which nothing happens—then we may choose that route. But if we want to clean up, then those oligarchs and public servants should have a thicker skin,” said Yessayan in an interview on Wednesday.
In order to not wind up in the pages of a newspaper, the civil servants should mind their behavior and conduct themselves with certain decorum, advised the editor.
“A newspaper is a mirror to society. We shouldn’t shatter the mirror, but rather wash up, comb our hair and reform our image,” added Yessayan.