Local journalist violently attacked

New York, April 30, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns yesterday’s violent attack against Mger Galechian, a journalist with the opposition newspaper Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, which is based in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan.

According to Armenian and Russian news reports, two men came to the newspaper’s offices on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 29, and brutally assaulted Galechian, who sustained head injuries and remains hospitalized.

Chorrord Ishkhanutyun’s editor-in-chief Shoger Matevosian told CPJ in a telephone interview today that the two attackers had initially visited the newspaper on April 26 to complain about an article published the previous day that accused the head of Armenia’s National Security Service, Karlos Petrosian, of trying to illegally seize a neighbor’s property to build a lavish home.

Even though Galechian did not write the article, the men, who claimed that they had no connection to Petrosian, complained to Galechian, demanding a retraction. The newspaper printed an article noting that two unidentified men had visited the offices to dispute the allegations against Petrosian. After this edition was published, the two men returned to the newspaper and assaulted Galechian.

It is not clear if law enforcement authorities have launched an investigation into the attack.

“We demand a timely and thorough investigation into this incident,” said CPJ acting director Joel Simon. “We urge Armenian authorities to see that the perpetrators are brought to justice so that journalists there will be able to report the news safely and freely.”