CPJ: Armenian activist and editor attacked, placed in strict jail

Armenia -- Nikol Pashinian rallies supporters with a megaphone during an opposition protest action on Feb 20, 2008 (c) Photo by Artur Papyan for http://www.ditord.com

New York, December 2, 2010–The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about reports that Nikol Pashinian, an opposition activist and editor-in-chief of the independent daily Haykakan Zhamanak, was beaten in custody and moved into solitary confinement.

On Tuesday, authorities moved Pashinian into the strict-regime Artik prison. Pashinian’s lawyer, Vakhe Grigorian, told CPJ that the move was in retaliation for editorials Pashinian wrote from prison and published in Haykakan Zhamanak. He wrote about alleged corruption in the Armenian penitentiary system, Grigorian told CPJ.

Before Pashinian was moved to Artik, he was serving a four-year prison term in Kosh prison outside of Yerevan, for allegedly organizing mass riots spurred by flawed February 2008 presidential elections in Armenia. According to Grigorian, prison authorities had repeatedly ordered Pashinian to stop writing, but he continued. Shortly before he was moved to Artik, Pashinian said, he was physically attacked in his cell and beaten by two masked men on November 11, the Armenian service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

“We are concerned about reports that Nikol Pashinian was abused in retaliation for his critical commentary on prison conditions, and we call on Armenian authorities to conduct an independent investigation into the matter,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “We call on Armenian penitentiary service officials to guarantee Pashinian’s safety and to improve his prison conditions.”

Prison authorities denied the attack happened, and said that Pashinian’s medical exam had not revealed any signs of the alleged beating, local press reported. An independent exam was not conducted. Authorities announced today that Pashinian was transferred because he had allegedly violated unspecified prison rules at Kosh on multiple occasions, and because he had argued or fought with inmates, the independent Caucasus news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported.

Authorities arrested Pashinian in July 2009 and convicted him in January 2010 on the charges of organizing riots in March 2008 in the capital, Yerevan, local and international press reported. Seven people died and more than a hundred were wounded after the opposition protests against fraudulent presidential elections turned violent. Pashinian was sentenced initially to seven years in jail; the sentence was later reduced to four years, according to local press reports.

From: CPJ website


2 thoughts on “CPJ: Armenian activist and editor attacked, placed in strict jail

  1. although I am against anyone being jailed for protesting, but if Niko is really in jail (which I don’t believe that because he is a political crony of LTP regime) then he should not be mistreated. but since I don’t believe in political theatrics of smoke n’ mirrors, then I have hard time believing that he is being mistreated. if I was him I wouldn’t be very much concerned about having my ass handed to me every now & then, thats part of prison life. I would be more concerned are my letters being published and word is getting out to “the ppl” that nothing has changed and it is business as usual. if you can’t afford to do the time, then don’t commit the crime. lucky for me I have very little to lose, so I can commit crimes all I want, it wouldn’t bother me if any gov’t jailed me for short or even long period. my enemies should pray I never catch them in my own homeland, because they know dam well I have very little to lose and not much to gain, hence I can crime on them all I want and nothing will come of it, a few hundred to couple thousand dollars in Hayastan would get me a “get out of jail free” card

    it’s one thing if you tell me that a “commoner” is jailed, that I would believe, because in any country they jail all the nobodies. but, it’s another when you tell me that an elitist or semi-elitist such as Niko has been genuinely jailed…I have difficulty believing that. it’s the same with that bernie madoff, I don’t believe “Mr. I stole & funneled 50 billion dollars” is in jail, they claim that he is, but where is the proof? I would bet he is living it up very nicely in some underground bunker or some where that he can’t be seen by the public and every once in a while they pull him out from under his posh luxurious hidden rock and expose his head so that everyone can see he is supposedly in jail doing supposedly “hard time”

    never believe the hype, never believe the propaganda !

  2. And as of Monday, In Fact (irakanum), political, analytical TV Show of Karen Andreasyan on Armenia TV was suspended, due some conflicts with the Bagrat and Vahagn Sargsyans , the owners of the TV company.
    it was one of the politically active and unbiased shows I have ever watched on our TV. Unfortunately this the reality of our country , no freedom of press

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