Friday, March 14, 2008

Samizdat will go on.

Just as I thought, Kocharian's 'easing' of the media ban was a window dressing. The easing was essentially a bunch of empty words and was actually more dangerous to freedom of speech than the outright ban. I'm sure anyone who knows the Kocharian/Sargsian duo expected that the ban would remain in place.

For that reason, the Samizdat issues on this blog and the news articles on remain the source for information not controlled by the Armenian security agencies.

Samizdat must go on.

Below is the commentary from Unzipped.

What was the purpose of president Kocharyan amendments, if media blackout is still on - newspapers not published, websites blocked?

Main independent and pro-opposition newspapers were not able to publish today due to continuing media censorship in Armenia. And this is despite president Kocharyan’s decree on partially lifting media restrictions under the ‘state of emergency’.

Particularly, Aravot daily was not allowed to publish as representatives from the National Security Service - who are apparently permanent residents in the publishing house - put ban on the newspaper. Aravot editor Abrahamyan says Radio Liberty that his paper prepared balanced edition presenting views of both authorities and opposition. However, it was the article on Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s press conference which proved ‘decisive’ for state censors. They consider it containing “obviously false” information. For similar ‘justifications’, opposition Haykakan Zhamanak daily was banned too. So essentially, only pro-government newspapers continue working in Armenia. Most blocked Internet sites remain as such.

Editors question the real purpose of Kocharyan’s decree on easing media restrictions. They believe that this step was made by authorities to provide a cover for continuing media blackout in Armenia by creating headlines on lifting it, but essentially keeping everything as it was. This way they will try to ease pressure from international community to lift media ban, and state of emergency rules, altogether.

But the reality is depressing, indeed. Here is what had to say to its readers:

“Dear Readers,

ArmeniaNow regrets that the latest changes in Yerevan’s State of Emergency still leave wide control and leeway for media censorship which has already been exercised in state restrictions of newspapers on the first day of the revised provisions. Rather than subject our future to vague interpretations of what is considered “situation-destabilizing information”, we will remain under media blackout till such time as the State of Emergency has been suspended.

Thank you for your patience.”

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