Armenian reporters injured, equipment damaged while covering protest

At least 14 journalists were injured and had their equipment damaged while they were covering a protest in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on June 23, 2015, according to local and international news reports. Several of the journalists were also briefly detained at a local police station, the independent news website Armenia Now reported.

Residents of Yerevan began protesting on June 23 after Armenian authorities announced a 16 percent price increase in electricity taxes, according to The Washington Post. The protesters accused the authorities of corruption and mismanagement of funds and demanded the decision be repealed. The ensuing demonstration blocked one of the main highways in Yerevan, news reports said.

Police used batons and a water cannon against unarmed residents and journalists covering the stand-off, The New York Times reported. More than 200 protesters suffered bruises and were briefly detained by the police, reports said.

Some journalists were also injured, including Arsen Sarkisian, cameraman for the news website News; Tigran Hakopian and Tigran Khachatrian, cameramen for the news website Epress; Karapet Saakian, photojournalist for the news website Panorama; Ayk Badalyan, photojournalist for the news agency Photolure; cameramen Garik Azibekian and Garik Harutyunian, and journalist Artur Papian, all three with RFE/RL Armenian service; Ani Ovannisian and Grant Galstian, reporters for the Armenian investigative journalists’ association Hetq; Pailak Fakhradian, reporter for Galla TV; Mkrtych Karapetian, reporter for the independent daily Haykakan Zhamanak; David Davtian, reporter for Armenia-TV, and his cameraman, Gevorg Ghazarian. Many of the journalists sustained bruises.

Thousands of other protesters took to the streets following the clashes between police and demonstrators, news reports said. In a statement to the press on June 23, 2015, Interior Minister Vladimir Gasparian apologized for police actions and said authorities would launch an investigation. Gasparian also said police would reimburse journalists for their damaged equipment.