22 May 2003


Local television station suspended

Incident details

Incident details

television station(s)


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(RSF/IFEX) - On 22 May 2003, RSF urged the authorities to make respect for press freedom a priority in the 25 May legislative elections and referendum, as there were many violations of press freedom in the two rounds of the presidential election held in February and March. The organisation also voiced concern about the suspension of local television station Ankyun+3 on 20 May, which appears to have been politically motivated.

"Given the many cases of harassment, intimidation, confiscations and violence against journalists covering the presidential election a few months ago, we have every reason to be concerned about the conditions under which the media will be working in the coming election," RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard said in a letter to Central Electoral Commission Chairman Artak Sahradyan.

"We ask you to do everything possible to ensure that the members of the local commissions respect the electoral code and do not obstruct the work of journalists during the 25 May election," Ménard said. "We also ask you to intervene so that the TV station Ankyun+3 can resume broadcasting immediately," he added.

The local office of Armenia's Telecommunications Centre suspended broadcasts of the local TV station Ankyun+3, in the city of Alarverdi (in the Lori region), on 20 May, claiming the station had failed to respect technical regulations and had not broadcast state programmes.

Ankyun+3 editor-in-chief Hrachya Papinyan said the forced closure, which came five days before the election, was politically motivated, as the station had not supported Hovhannes Qochinyan, a candidate who is the brother of the regional government leader. A week earlier, tax inspectors had also initiated an examination of the station's financial records.

According to RSF, there were many cases of obstruction of news coverage during the two rounds of the presidential election on 19 February and 5 March. Independent media representatives, including journalists from the independent television station A1+, were subjected to intimidation and physically attacked while trying to cover voting at polling stations (see IFEX alert of 5 March 2003). In most cases, members of local electoral commissions were responsible for the incidents against the press. RSF points out that no accreditation is needed to cover local polling stations. Article 30 of the Electoral Code bans any limitation on the rights of the news media.


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