On May 21, 2003 David Melkumyan, an employee of the Telecommunication Center of Armenia CJSC, came to Alaverdi and turned the transmitter of the Ankiun+3 TV Station, which he himself had disconnected the day before, back on. When Sos Siradeghyan, the director of the TV station, asked what was going on, Melkumyan responded, “I do as I am told.” According to reliable information, Melkumyan had received his instructions from Governor Henrik Kochinyan.
The Lori governor's crusade
On May 20, 2003 employees of the Telecommunication Center of Armenia CJSC, D. Melkumyan and A. Manukyan, disconnected the transmitter of the Ankiun+3 TV Station. According to the official explanation, the TV Station was taken off the air because “it had not ensured the required technical quality and had not been broadcasting state programming.”
Ankiun+3’s editor-in-chief, Hrachya Papinyan, is sure that the closure is politically motivated. The marzpet (governor) of Lori doesn’t like the way Ankiun+3 works in general. The reporters at the station don’t follow his orders. The marzpet is extremely unhappy with the station’s campaign coverage, because it doesn’t please one majoritarian candidate in particular, the governor’s brother, Hovhannes Kochinyan. His entourage has been threatening the TV reporters periodically. A week ago, officers of the Tax Agency were “detached” to the TV station. The inspection is not over yet. On May 18th station broadcast a statement by the campaign headquarters of Hovhannes Kochinyan’s main opponent, Hamlet Tamazyan, which accused local and provincial authorities of threatening people and attempting to prevent campaigning.
On May 19th, staffers from the local office of the Republican Party were displeased with the station’s coverage their party leaders’ visit to the region. After the news broadcast, the Republicans threatened the reporters with reprisals.
Alaverdi residents were the first to complain about the closure of the station. Individuals, and public and political figures have been calling the Ankiun +3 offices, proposing a rally in support of the TV station. According to our information, people from Alaverdi sent a letter of protest to President Robert Kocharyan. The Lori governor is in a time crunch -- his brother is losing in all probability, so he was forced to take steps.
Deputy Director Kurbanyan of the Telecommunication Center of Armenia CJSC was unaware that the transmitter of the Ankiun+3 TV Station had been disconnected. At 6 p.m. on May 20th, Sos Siradeghyan, the director of the TV station, was called into the Republican Party headquarters to meet with Governor Henrik Kochinyan. Kochinyan informed Siradeghyan that he was unaware of the reason the transmitter was disconnected.
Incidentally, the Public Television of Armenia has an arrangement with the Ankiun+3 TV Station to cover the elections live every two hours on voting day. And if the station is unable to do so, this public service, in all probability, will be provided by Marzpet Kochinyan.