H. E. Robert Kocharian
Office of the President
Marshal Baghramian St. 26
375077 Yerevan

Fax: + (374 1) 521- 551 / 561-581/ 151-152

Vienna, 27 August 2004

Your Excellency,

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, strongly condemns the attack on Mkhitar Khachatrian, a photojournalist with the news agency Fotolur.

According to information before IPI, the attack occurred on 24 August while Khachatrian and Anna Israelian, a correspondent for the independent daily Aravot, were on assignment in the exclusive resort town of Tsaghkadzor. The journalists had travelled to the central Armenian town to write an article about the damage caused to the local environment by building projects carried out over recent years.

Khachatrian was taking pictures of a house allegedly belonging to Armen Yeritsian, deputy chief of national police, when a guard came out and told him to stop photographing. Later, the two journalists were confronted by the same guard at a café in Tsaghkadzor. The guard recognised the journalist and called several men over, one of whom subsequently assaulted Khachatrian. The journalist said the man kicked, punched, cursed and threatened to kill him, and that he was forced to surrender the memory card of his digital camera to prevent his camera from being broken.

According to reports, Khachatrian’s description of the attackers matches that of the men who assaulted several journalists and destroyed their cameras at an opposition rally in Yerevan on 5 April.

IPI urges Your Excellency to authorise an immediate and thorough investigation into these incidents and to do everything in your power to create an environment in Armenia that allows journalists to practice their profession without fear of harassment or intimidation.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Johann P. Fritz