As promised yesterday, President Kocharyan has issued a decree today easing restrictions on media imposed under the presidential decree about the State of Emergency on March 1st, following the opposition riots rendering 8 dead and more then hundred wounded. Subpoints 4 and 5 of Point 4 of the original decree were formulated this way: 4) Publications of mass media concerning state and internal political issues can be implemented solely within the limits of the official information of state bodies. 5) Ban on leaflets and implementation of political propaganda by other means without permission of corresponding state bodies.
According to the new decree, subpoint 5) Ban on leaflets and implementation of political propaganda by other means without permission of corresponding state bodies will be eliminated, as to subpoint 4, which is the one really restricting the media, it will now be reformulated the following way:
“The media are prohibited from publishing or disseminating information on state and inner political issues, which is deliberately untrue or destabilizing, or appeals to take part in events held with no prior notice (illegally), as well as publication or dissemination of such information or appeals in any other way or form.” The amendments introduced to the Decree will come into force on March 14, 2008.
This is not freedom yet, but this is already some releif. However, knowing how selectively laws are applied in Armenia and looking at the formulations in the Presidential decree, I’m sure, that it will be used to effectivly block any publication on the opposition media, while allowing the pro-government media do all they like. On the other hand, I strongly disapprove of publication of “obvious lies” – be it under state of emergency or anywhere else, be it in a democracy or the worst dictatorship of the world.