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Armenia21 February 2008

Journalists physically attacked during election campaign

Reporters Without Borders called today for the punishment of those responsible for attacking or obstructing three journalists as they were covering the presidential election campaign in Erevan on 19 February. “The authorities must take these incidents seriously,” it said. “The journalists were simply doing their job.”

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the election victory of former prime minister Serge Sarkassian was up to international standards but improvement was needed.

When journalist Lusine Barsegian, of the opposition paper Aikakan Jamanak, took photos of ballot-box stuffing and non-secret voting at a polling station, she was beaten by two men who seized her camera and dictaphone after she refused to leave. Witnesses, including a police official, failed to intervene and she was hospitalised. A legal inquiry has been opened.

Samvel Avagyan, who works for the daily paper Haik, had his dictaphone snatched from him when he tried to question people in a bus taking them to polling stations after being given ballot papers by police near a market.

Cameraman Ovsep Ovsepian, of the TV station A1+, was attacked as he got out of his car by thugs who seized his recordings and tried to smash his camera. He was insulted by one of the attackers who spotted a leaflet of opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian in the car.




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