- Lragir, newspaper, legal action, March 1, 1996
A Yerevan court suspended the publication of the independent daily Lragir for three months.
|Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Caucasian republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have declared their desire to model themselves after Western European societies, with free-market economies and democratic government. But their passage from communism to a new social order has been rife with contradictions. In the current transition period, leaders of both countries display authoritarian tendencies, resulting in an ambiguous and sometimes surreal climate for the media:|
Editors of Baku's leading newspapers were thrown into turmoil in early November 1996. The Milli Medjlis had just amended the law on mass media to require licensing in addition to registration with the Ministry of Justice before newspapers could begin, or continue, operating. Fourteen chief editors of newspapers and news agencies gathered in December to demand clarification. "We hoped for some positive changes when we heard that parliament would consider amendments and modifications," the editors said in a statement to the Milli Medjlis. "But we got confused when we read the text..." The editors asked: What agency would issue the newly required licenses? What would be the criteria? Could the licenses be revoked?
There are two views of the press in Armenia today. The first holds that the press is entirely free to report as it chooses. The second is that the press is irresponsible. One thing is certain: In the absence of censorship, Armenian officials resort to verbal pressure and sometimes physical retribution, to knock journalists into line.
The collapse of Soviet-style journalism has brought a new type of writer to the fore-youthful, enthusiastic, but often without training or experience. A problem in Armenian journalism is the need to replace Soviet-era training with new methods. Ruben A. Satyan says he assigns new recruits at Vremya to senior editors for on-the-job training. Astghik Gevorkian, chair of the refashioned Soviet-era Union of Journalists, says journalism departments in state educational institutions have been unable to adjust to new conditions because their professors are holdovers from the Communist era.
|Cut It Out: Notes from An Azerbaijani Censor
A 1993 censor's log book, revealing the interplay between censors and the cuts they made, has been circulating among Baku editors. Some extracts from the purloined document: