Rustamian Torosian Slam Broadcasting Body for A1+ Mess

YEREVAN (ARF Press Office–RFE/RL)–On Thursday–two senior members of the Armenian parliament–Armen Rustamian and Tigran Torosian–condemned the head of a government commission that regulates broadcasting for its refusal to award A1+ a new broadcast license earlier this month.

Chairman of the Parliament’s foreign relations committee Armen Rustamian and deputy speaker Tigran Torosian continued their criticism of the National Commission on television–announcing that they would push for major amendmen’s to Armenia’s controversial law on broadcasting–which mandates such contests.

The chairman of the commission–Grigor Amalian–scoffed at the criticism on Wednesday–suggesting sarcastically that the Parliament pass a special law that would grant A1+ an air frequency without a tender.

Rustamian–a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–answered: "Judging from his statement–I can now suppose that Mr. Amalian thought until now that the existing law imposes a ban on giving A1+ a frequency."

Amalian’s remarks seemed to have also angered Torosian–a leading member of the Republican Party. "Amalian was not supposed to accept or not accept what has been said about the last contest . . . If Amalian thinks that he has so much authority that apart from regulating his sphere he can also deal with the work of the National Assembly–he is sorely wrong."

The independent A1+ channel was forcibly closed in April 2002. The commission’s refusal to lift the ban has led to renewed Western pressure on Yerevan.

On Wednesday–head of the Council of Europe Walter Schwimmer accused Armenian authorities of not keeping their promise to reopen A1+ and warned that it may hinder Armenia’s "further integration into Europe."

Rustamian commented on the commission’s unwise move. "Even if the existing law on broadcasting gran’s the freedom to act as the commission did [in refusing to grant the license]–it should have nevertheless taken into account the many suggestions by representatives of international organizations–observation missions and experts–to have acted differently," he said.

Rustamian and Torosian–who will represent Armenia at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) this fall–have repeatedly expressed concern about the international implications of the A1+ affair. "To neglect such statemen’s could create a very dangerous situation for us," Rustamian said of Schwimmer’s reaction.

Amalian has also caused another controversy by suggesting that international organizations help A1+ monetarily instead of criticizing the authorities. Reacting to the idea earlier this week–the outgoing head of the OSCE office in Yerevan–Roy Reeve–said: "That comment is not worth commenting on."

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