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Armenian Court Rules Against Hate-Spreading Newspaper, Obliges to Pay Compensation

On Thursday, May 14, the Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan partially satisfied the claim by “Nor Serund” (“New Generation”) NGO representatives Grigor Gevorgyan, Arman Sahakyan, and Hovhannes Mkrtchyan against “Iravunk” newspaper and its editor-in-chief Hovhannes Galajyan. The plaintiffs demanded that the paper publish a refutation, publish the court's verdict, and pay compensation for moral damages to each citizen in the amount of 3 million AMD (about $ 7,000).

Presiding judge Arayik Melkumyan did not satisfy the demand to publish the verdict, and set the amount of compensation 250.000 AMD (about $ 526) to each plaintiff, Arman Sahakyan told Epress.am. He added he was pleasantly surprised: he did not expect such a verdict against "Iravunk" paper. 

Recall, on July 11, 2014 “Iravunk” newspaper published an article in the section “Obscenity without limits” entitled “Another three of Conchita’s witnesses joined the persecution of free speech”, where details of personal lives of Arman Sahakyan, Hovhannes Mkrtchyan, and Grigor Gevorgyan were published. 

Previously, the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal rejected another lawsuit against  "Iravunk" newspaper, submitted by 16 citizens.

In May, 2014, the paper published an article entitled “They serve the interests of international homo-addiction [sic] lobbying: the blacklist of the country’s and nation’s enemies”, which included a black list of 60 individuals' names, calling for people to show “zero tolerance” towards them, deny employment, fire them from civil service jobs, and not greet them on meeting.

"Iravunk" referred to those people, who during a Facebook Press Conference organized by RFE/RL's Armenian Service had criticized 2014 Eurovision’s Armenian national jury members and singers Inga and Anush Arshakyan for uttering their “disgust” toward Austrian singer Conchita Wurst. 

16 of the 60 people collectively submitted a suit to the court, claiming their honor and dignity were sullied, however the court considered the claim insufficient, and ordered the plaintiffs to compensate the paper's editor-in-chief Hovhannes Galajyan's legal costs.

Pictured, Hovhannes Galajyan and Republican Party MP, founder and chairman of "Iravunk Media" LLC Hayk Babukhanyan.