On April 27 the court of general jurisdiction of Avan and Nor Nork administrative districts of Yerevan started hearing the suit of Grisha Balasanian, correspondent of “Hetq”, the newspaper of “Investigative Journalists” NGO, versus Ruben Hayrapetian, RA National Assembly MP and Chairman of the Football Federation of Armenia. As it has been reported, on February 2, 2011 Grisha Balasanian had called Ruben Hayrapetian on his mobile phone for getting some comments. In reply the MP asked whether the journalist had a recorder on, and after an affirmative answer he started to swear at Grisha Balasanian. By assessing this conduct as impeding the legitimate professional activities of the journalist, on February 3 “Hetq” addressed a communication on a crime to the RA General Prosecutor Aghvan Hovsepian, by enclosing the telephone records to it. On February 27 the Special Investigative Service informed that the criminal proceedings on Article 164 of RA Criminal Code (“Impeding the legitimate professional activities of a journalist”) versus Ruben Hayrapetian will not be instituted for absence of corpus delicti (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, February 25 – March 3, 2011). Afterwards, Grisha Balasanian filed a civil suit versus Ruben Hayrapetian. The journalist demands to oblige the MP to present apologies, pay off a compensation of 1 million AMD (more than $ 2,700), as well as cover the court expenses. The suit on protecting the honor and dignity, and compensating the moral damage is grounded by the RA Constitution provisions, international commitments of Armenia and case law of the European Court of Human Rights.
At the April 27 session the parties particularly presented their arguments whether the telephone records constitute interference in private life, and whether the conversation between the journalist and the deputy can be qualified as violation of Article 1087.1 of RA Civil Code (“Order and Conditions of Compensation of Damage to the Honor, Dignity or Business Reputation”).
The next court session will take place in May 12.