Sunday, 23 September

“Responsible Government” and the “Irresponsible Media”

In February, Hetq published an article entitled “A ring of illegal construction sites has encircled Lake Sevan”.  The article presented facts regarding illegal construction belonging to several top government officials, most notably of Minister for Nature Protection Aram Harutyunyan.

On several occasion RoA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan has noted that the government will be following exposes published in the press and that it will enact corresponding measures when needed. During a press conference given by RoA President Serzh Sargsyan on the occasion of his first one hundred days in office, a reporter from the newspaper “Aravaot” asked the president, “You have already caught a few small fish in the anti-corruption campaign you have started, but what about the big fish? Don’t you know where they are?” The President of Armenian responded, “Of course I’d be happy if you (the press) would show me where they are. Not only if you pointed them out but helped me trap them in the net.” Given these pronouncements, we thought we could sit back and wait for the government to respond to our article. Months passed with no word, so we were forced to dispatch two letters; one to Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan and one to General Prosecutor Aghvan Hovsepyan. GP Hovsepyan responded at once, saying that he passed on our letter to the Gegharkunik Regional Prosecutor for examination. A farce, of sorts, occurred as a result of our letter to the prime minister. It turns out that our “responsible” government has displayed an attitude of “super responsibility” when it come to the “irresponsible” press. They forwarded our letter to Aram Harutyunyan, the Minister of Nature Protection, in order that he account for his abuses of his office in detail. In the letter we sent to the prime minister we exposed the fact that one of his top ranking government officials was abusing the powers of his office. The prime minister, in turn, found it prudent that it should be the minister in question to personally account for his actions before the gaze of reporters. We should remind readers that before the publication of the article, this same minister failed to respond to our questions for months on end. At long last we finally received a reply from S. Minasyan, the Chief of Staff at the Nature Ministry. Unfortunately, the response contained no reaction regarding the facts presented in the letter or as to the violations committed by the minister. In a word, Mr. Minasyan had nothing to offer in way of clarification. This is just one small episode of the framework of relations that exist between our “responsible” government and the “irresponsible” press.

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