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Military Officials Demand Newspaper Reveal Identity of Soldier Who Talked About Army Problems

Officers of the military police department of the Armenian Ministry of Defense have visited the office of the local Hraparak newspaper to demand that the reporters reveal the source of a recently published information.

On November 16, Hraparak published an article in which a soldier of a military unit located in Martakert tells about the low-quality hygiene products provided at the unit. He says that the soldiers’ parents therefore have to send them socks, toothpaste, soap and other basic self-care items, as well as pay officers a thousand drams each to transfer the items to the servicemen.

Following the publication of the article, some Captain Khachatryan from the prosecutor’s office of Nagorno-Karabakh had also phoned Hraparak’s office to find out the identity of the soldier.

“The officer of the defense ministry’s military police understood that we had a right not to reveal our source; the employee of the prosecutor’s, meanwhile, would insist that we had to reveal the identity of the soldier. Otherwise, he said, we would be criminally prosecuted for slander. By the way, today we learned that the military police of Karabakh’s defense army have been actively trying to find the aforementioned soldier; they have even lined up all the soldiers of the unit and demanded that ‘the culprit’ reveal himself. No such action by the authorities will ever eliminate the faulty practices in the army. The aim here is to ensure that no soldier leaks this type of information to the media in the future,” the paper wrote in its Thursday issue.

Recall, a number of international human rights organizations, and Reporters Without Borders namely, have reported over the years that Armenia’s law enforcement authorities keep violating local media outlets’ right to the confidentiality of their sources.

In one such incident, a Yerevan court had ordered Ilur.am website and Hraparak daily to disclose their sources as part of a criminal investigation involving a high-level Armenian police official. Ilur.am had reported earlier in 2014 that Armenian Greco-Roman wrestler, three-time European Champion, and Olympic bronze medalist Artur Aleksanyan had been attacked by then Shirak Police Chief Vardan Nadaryan (the official has since been relieved of his position for reasons unrelated to the investigation). The media outlets had refused to reveal the sources and appealed to the country’s Constitutional Court, claiming that any media outlet would lose the trust of all its sources if it ever revealed a source. The Court had granted the outlets’ appeal.