Row Over Armenian Government Paper Heats Up

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The editorial staff of the government-funded Respublica Armenii daily newspaper said it will sue the authorities for what it sees as the illegal appointment of a new editor-in-chief–rejected by the Russian-language publication. Ashot Gazazian–the acting editor–whom the paper’s staff wanted to be confirmed in that post–told RFE/RL Wednesday he will consult lawyers about the specifics of the planned court action. Gazazian was sacked Tuesday by the speaker of the Armenian parliament–who replaced him with another journalist–Shamiram Aghabekian. The newspaper has rejected the new boss–saying that her appointment was made without its consent.

Meanwhile–Aghabekian has already settled in the chief-editorial office–launching a self-styled issue of Respublica Armenii Wednesday. Journalists working for the paper told RFE/RL that none of them took part in its publication. "It is not our newspaper," said Gazazian–pointing to the controversial issue. Some of the staffers also claimed that Aghabekian has threatened to fire them unless they return to work.

In an interview with an RFE/RL correspondent–Aghabekian admitted that none of the journalists had agreed to cooperate with her–but said they should comply with decisions by the parliament leadership since they are "funded by the state."

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