Armenian online editor beaten, hospitalized

New York, April 30, 2009–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Armenian authorities to apprehend three assailants who attacked Argishti Kivirian, editor of the independent news Web site Armenia Today. The unidentified men beat Kivirian early this morning, leaving him hospitalized in serious condition, Zhanna Alexanian, president of the Yerevan-based organization Journalists for Human Rights, told CPJ. 

“We condemn this brutal attack on Argishti Kivirian and call on Yerevan police to swiftly apprehend and punish his assailants,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Independent journalists in Armenia, including those working online, have been subjected to increased physical violence in the past year. Armenian authorities should reverse this trend by investigating and prosecuting to the fullest all responsible for today’s attempt on Kivirian’s life.”

Local press reports and CPJ sources said Kivirian was returning home from his newsroom at around 5 a.m., when three men attacked him in the entrance to his Yerevan apartment building. The men appeared to have been waiting for him, said Alexanian, who spoke to Kivirian’s wife, the prominent lawyer Luciné Saakian, shortly after the attack. Wielding rubber clubs, the assailants hit Kivirian in the head and elsewhere on his body. Kivirian struggled with one attacker who brandished a gun, causing the firearm to discharge, Saakian told Alexanian. The shots roused Saakian and neighbors, causing the assailants to flee, local press reports said.

Kivirian was taken to a Yerevan hospital where he was being treated for a concussion and multiple bruises, the Armenian press reported.

Armenia Today is an independent Web site that publishes political, social, and economic news, along with analyses of current events. In a statement published after the attack, Kivirian’s colleagues said they were convinced the attack was connected to his work and vowed that the site would continue operating as usual. Colleagues did not connect the attack to a specific piece. Kivirian has not yet spoken publicly.