Editor attacked, beaten

SEPTEMBER 15, 2007Posted October 3, 2007
Ovannes Galagzhian, Iskakan IravunkATTACKED

Two unidentified assailants attacked and severely beat Ovannes Galadzhian, editor of the Yerevan-based newspaper Iskakan Iravunk on September 15 as he was leaving his newsroom at around 7 p.m. The two used metal rods to hit Galadzhian mainly on the head; he was hospitalized.

CPJ spoke with Galadzhian at the Grigor Lusavorich hospital in Yerevan. He told CPJ he believes Grant Khachatrian, leader of the conservative Union of Constitutional Rights party, masterminded the attack against him as a part of an ongoing conflict that led to the earlier split of the party organ Iravunk into two separate newspapers.

Since the division, the two papers—Iravunk and Iskakan Iravunk—have been in conflict. According to Galadzhian, Khachatrian’s followers attacked Iskakan Iravunk last February but there was no reaction from the Yerevan police.

David Petrosian, Armenia correspondent for the Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, quotes Iskakan Iravunk Editor-in-Chief Aik Babukhanian as saying, “We don’t have allegation, we have facts—during the past year Galadzhian was attacked, harassed, and subjected to psychological pressure.”

Petrosian told CPJ he questioned the link to Khachatrian, pointing out that Galadzhian’s publications have been critical of the current presidential administration and Armenian oligarchs. “There is an ongoing conflict between Iskakan Iravunk editors and Khachiatrian’s party, yet it is unlikely that it was the reason for the violence,” Petrosian said. Khachatrian denounced the attack and called it a matter of honor for the prosecutor’s office to investigate the case, Petrosian added.

Galadzhian said he was brought to the hospital with six lacerations and diagnosed with a concussion.

The case is being investigated by the Central Police District department in Yerevan. Ruslan Tatoian, Galadzhian’s colleague at Iskakan Iravunk, told CPJ he does not believe a successful investigation is possibel since the one concerning last year’s attack on the journalist did not bring any results. Galadzhian was attacked in September 2006 in a similar way as he was leaving his home.