Freedom of Information Center of Armenia.

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Freedom of Information in Gegharquniq marz


Papin Muradyan, Gegharquniq region
Bulletin 15

Gegharquniq region has 5 cities, 87 villages and only 5 mass media – 2 newspapers (“Geghama ashkhar” is not functioning due to the editor’s illness. A new editor has already been appointed, so the paper will appear in print again) and 3 TV companies. As for radio, it is not available in Gegharquniq like in almost all regions. In Chambarak and Vardenis cities there are no mass media functioning.

Naturally, journalists of “Geghama ashkhar” newspaper inform people about local events as much as they are informed. According to the chairman of “Zangak” TV Company of Martouni David Eranosyan, the people of Martuni can only listen to advertisements of local authorities and sometimes information published for their own interests.

Residents of Gavar do not receive any financial information. As the chairman of “Gavar” TV company Vahagn Gharibyan says, financial information is obtained with difficulty. Instead, people of Gavar can use web site, where they can find the governor’s decisions, legislative acts, social structures of the region, organizations, budget, as well as health, education and social information.

In this respect, the situation in Sevan city looks much better. Journalists of “STV1” TV Company and “Sevan” newspaper say that getting information from the mayor and the governor is quite easy. Interestingly for Martouni journalists the same governor is an advertiser whereas for journalists of Sevan city he is a source of information. After all simple citizens of Martuni are also an information source for “Zangak” TV Company. As for avoiding fact distortion and violation of journalistic ethics David Yeranosyan says that before airing the information is checked and corrected. Information services are to support journalists in their work. The information service of Gegharquniq regional municipality fulfills its mission, since local journalists do not complain of that structure. There was an element of complaint only in the reply of “Zangak” TV company chairman who said that “of course they provide the information which is convenient for them”. The press secretary of Gegharquniq governor Khosrov Khlghatyan said that only journalists from “Gavar” TV Company turn to them for information. However, information on the visits of foreign delegations and other high priority news is provided even without being asked to. Among municipalities there is a functioning information service only in Sevan municipality. Chairman of “STV1” TV company Suren Barseghyan does not complain of the service, but Ann Movsisyan from “Sevan” newspaper says that the municipality’s information service neither supports nor hinders the work of journalists.

The information center of Gavar is open for journalists. Vahagn Dabaghyan and his colleagues obtain the information they need with no difficulty. All the journalists of the region unanimously complain of local law-enforcement bodies. The only difference is that in Martuni “ they do not provide any information”, in Gavar ”they more often refuse to provide information”. As for Sevan city, together with law-enforcement bodies here we should also mention the employees of passport department. The same can also be said about medical establishments where information is not provided even to simple citizens. Journalists from “Sevan” newspaper Anna Movsisyan and Armine Darbinyan explained the situation on their own example. In September 2005, resident of Sevan city Anna Movsisyan had a lot of problems with Sevan hygienic and epidemic inspectorate in getting medical inspection documents of her four-month old child.

When in the inspectorate they learned that Ann was a reporter from “Sevan” newspaper, the attitude towards her changed.

Armine Darbinyan’s example is also from medical sphere. “I was going to interview the head physician of the polyclinic. Waiting for the doctor, there was another citizen who, just like me did not deserve to be greeted by the doctor. But when the doctor learned that I was a journalist, he greeted me, offered to take a seat and kindly answered my questions”, says Armine and adds that it is not because of respect, but fear.

In Gavar people respect and rely on the RA law on “Freedom of Information” which has been in effect for more than two years. As a person who knows the law, Vahagn Dabaghyan gives special importance to the written information inquiry form.

According to the chairman of “Zangak” TV company David Yeranosyan the law is helpful, but on the whole is not functioning. He says that the reason is not in the incompleteness of the law, but in the lack of trust towards officials. Yeranosyan says that they do not provide information. “We have sent thousands of written inquiries to various officials but never received a reply”, Yeranosyan says. However during our interview he could not remember the name of any official. Representatives of printed and electronic mass media of Sevan city say that the laws are very helpful but people need to know them.

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