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Armenia: Police attack journalists as they cover protesters' release

Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about the police violence against journalists who were waiting with around 60 other people outside a police station in the Yerevan district of Kentron on 23 June for the release of protesters arrested earlier in the day.

First, the police told the journalists to stand back on the grounds that they were obstructing the work of the police. Then they formed a line and kicked the feet of the journalists, who just wanted to cover the imminent release of those arrested while protesting against an increase in the price of natural gas.

Journalist Ani Gervorgyan was slapped by a policeman she recognized as the one who had tried to confiscate her camera on 12 February. Another journalist, Arpi Makhsudyan, was hit while filming with her mobile phone and was forced to stop. Gala TV cameraman Paylak Fahradyan was physically attacked and his laptop was smashed.

“We firmly condemn the police violence against journalists who were just doing their job in a law-abiding manner,” said Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia Desk. “The actions of the police must not be unpunished or else their violent behaviour will recur and could become the norm. The policemen who attacked the journalists must be brought to justice.”

A total of 27 people were arrested earlier in the day when police used violence to disperse a demonstration outside the Public Services Regulation Commission in protest against a proposed increase in gas prices by the joint Russian and Armenian state-owned company ArmRosGazprom.

Those arrested were accused under article 182 of the civil code of “disobeying a legitimate order from the police.”

Armenia is ranked 78th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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