Committee to Protect Journalists on the ban of ARF press in Armenia

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) recently released a report, Attacks on the Press in 1995, documenting attacks on the media and press freedom in countries around the world. The survey included the following analysis regarding Armenia:

Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union in September 1991 gave rise to the first independent media in the republic’s history. Economic problems and seven years of bitter fighting with the neighboring republic of Azerbaijan, however, have pushed the Armenian government in a steadily more despotic direction.

In January 1995, CPJ participated in a fact-finding mission to Armenia to investigate the closures of 11 publications, which came on the heels of a Dec. 28, 1994, decree by President Levon Ter-Petrossian. In that decree, he ordered that the activities of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), the country’s leading opposition party, be suspended indefinitely. Following the decree, security agencies raided the editorial offices of Yerkir, the official ARF newspaper and the largest circulation daily in the republic, as well as four ARF-affiliated news organizations and six independent ones. All the editorial offices were then closed, ostensibly because they were benefiting from illegal sources of funding.

At the end of 1995, the decree was still in effect and none of the editorial offices had reopened.