New York, December 30, 2002–Tigran Nagdalian, the 36-year-old head of the state-owned Armenian Public Television, was shot in the head as he was leaving his parents home in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, on Saturday, December 28. The journalist was rushed to a hospital, where he died during emergency surgery, according to press reports.
The motive for the murder remains unclear. Nagdalian, who also hosted a weekly news program on Armenian Public Television and worked for the Armenian service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from 1995 to 1997, was a strong supporter and friend of Armenia’s president Robert Kocharian. Government officials believe that the murder was politically motivated, but some local media experts pointed to Nagdalian’s lavish lifestyle and business interests as a possible explanation for his assassination.
Armenian authorities have launched an investigation.
Another journalist injured in an earlier attack
On October 22, Armenian free-lance journalist Mark Grigorian suffered serious shrapnel wounds to the head and chest from a grenade thrown at him as he walked through the center of downtown Yerevan. Authorities are investigating the attack. (See CPJ Alert, Oct. 24).
Grigorian told Armenian Public Television from his hospital bed that he saw “a young man running away” seconds after the grenade exploded. At the time of the attack, Agence France-Press reported that the journalist had been working on an article about an October 1999 assault on the Armenian Parliament that killed eight politicians, including the prime minister.
In the last three years, several Armenian journalists have been harassed and violently attacked in retaliation for their coverage of the government’s investigation into the 1999 Parliament attack.