Information Dept. Head Comments on Arrest

YEREVAN (Armenpress)– "I did not know that the deputy director of National Television Harutiun Harutiunian would be arrested in the Information and Publications Department building," said Department head Tigran Hakobian at a news conference while commenting on the allegations that he was aware of it in advance. "I had invited him to discuss the National Television’s 2000 budget," said Hakobian.

Harutiunian was arrested on January 5 on charges of involvement in the October 27 shootings in parliament as a result of which prime minister Vazgen Sargsyan–parliament speaker Karen Demirchian and 6 other parliament and government officials were killed.

In Hakobian’s words–he did not even meet with Harutiun Harutiunian that day. "If I had known I would not have allowed the arrest in the building," he said.

Tigran Hakobian said that he had full confidence in the investigative body making inquiry into the case. He proposed reporters to have regular meetings with military prosecutor Gagik Jhangirian who leads the investigation. "As for me–I will use all my authority to promote an impartial inquiry to track down the real organizers of the crime," he said.

"The propaganda campaign launched by the National Television in support of Harutiun Harutiunian looks likes a hysteria," added Tigran Hakobian. He also denied the rumors about enforcing censorship. "The return to censorship is out of the question in Armenia," said Hakobian.

Referring to an arson attack on Novoye Vremya semi-weekly’s editorial office on New Year’s eve and to an incident at Haykakan Zhamanak daily–the male staff of which was beaten by a local businessman–Tigran Hakobian defined them as sad and unpleasant.

He also said that the mass media needs legislative regulation. "The Department which I head will come up with drafts which will fill that gap. Special attention will be paid to non-state run TV channels–having in mind the country’s information security and policy," said Hakobian.

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