Sunday, 23 September

The deputy chief of the Armenian Police is a criminal

Shown in the picture is the deputy chief of the Armenian Police, General Hovhannes Varyan. So far no charges have been brought against him by Armenian law enforcement agencies, and President Robert Kocharyan has not dismissed him from office, despite his active role in the recent violence.

It was at the direct order of Hovhannes Varyan that Hayk Gevorgyan, a well-known writer and photographer for the daily newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak, was severely beaten. Gevorgyan sustained serious injuries on his head, chest and back and was hospitalized following a collective beating initiated by Varyan. "He personally grabbed my camera first," Gevorgyan told us. "I said something like 'What does this mean?' He shouted 'You'll see what it means now,' and more than a dozen other officers started hitting me." Gevorgyan was then dragged into the neighboring parliament compound, where the beating continued relentlessly. He said: "People there seemed to be waiting for me. They immediately attacked me, kicking, punching and hitting me with clubs. I kept yelling 'I'm a journalist, I'm a journalist.' But no one cared." He then was taken to the Nor Nork police station. Only after an hour-and-a-half, seeing that he was in serious condition, did they call an ambulance to take him to the Nor Nork hospital.

Levon Grigoryan, a cameraman for Russia 's largest television network, ORT, saw his camera shattered before being knocked unconscious. Grigoryan said he was filming thousands of people running away in panic when a group of plainclothes and uniformed men attacked him. He believes that they used electrical shock devices. "They beat me unconscious and then threw me under a tree like a rag," he said. Another journalist, Mher Ghalechyan of the weekly Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, was beaten up and taken to the Erebuni police station after he photographed security officers outside the ransacked offices of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party. Ghalechyan was set free later in the evening. Avetis Babajanyan, another Haykakan Zhamanak correspondent also present at the scene of bloody suppression of the opposition protest, was hit in the back and the legs as he was forced to pass through two rows of baton-wielding security officers wearing helmets and flak jackets. He was taken to the Nor Nork police station, where he spent the night. 

There exist today sufficient grounds for the arrest of the oligarchs' bodyguards who committed violence against journalists during the April 5 th rally organized by the National Unity Party and of the high-ranking police officer Hovhannes Varyan, who organized the assault against journalists on April 13 th . But these criminals remain at large, ready to attack journalists at any time. The government relies upon them for this very reason.

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