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Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Official reaction to online video evidence of shooting at protesters

Video evidence of special police units shooting at protesters (and not in the air, as officials claim) posted online spread so fast that no media blackout could prevent it reaching international community and Armenian public, and officials in Yerevan started reacting to this damning evidence. As I said elsewhere, they may shut down local media for a while, they may be successful in political persecutions for a while, but they just can’t fight Internet. It’s a different era, and sooner they understand it, the better. In fact, all signs are out there that by losing information war, Armenian authorities started paying more attention to Internet and the ways to exploit it for their own PR and not only. First signs of Internet power and influence became apparent during pre/post election period when election related videos posted by A1+ led to investigations, although I do not know the results of that proceedings.

Back to online video evidence, RFE/RL reports that “Hakob Gharakhanian [a senior prosecutor involved in the ongoing criminal investigation] questioned the authenticity of a video clip of the violence circulating on the Internet which shows a group of special police officers opening automatic gunfire in the direction of the demonstrators. Nonetheless, he said, Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian has instructed his subordinates to examine the footage and determine whether the police indeed shot at the crowd.

“Nobody fired live rounds at the demonstrators,” Gharakhanian told reporters. “Despite that, the prosecutor-general has issued a written order to investigate and give legal assessment to the actions of police officers.”

Underscoring their distrust of the Armenian security apparatus, the European Union and some international human rights organizations have called for an independent investigation into the deadliest street violence in Armenia’s history.

The Armenian government is unlikely to agree to such an investigation. Hovsepian, according to his spokeswoman Sona Truzian, told the head of the OSCE office in Yerevan late Tuesday that he is only ready to let “international experts” take part in forensic tests conducted by the investigators."

Interestingly, writing about the same press conference, ArmInfo reports that Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepyan “appealed to UN for assistance in carrying out expert examination of video posted in the Internet. As Prosecutor General's spokeswoman Sona Truzyan said at today's press-conference, A. Hovsepyan met Head of the UN Yerevan Office today and asked for assistance in carrying out an expert examination on Internet shots, "for the international experts to carry out the examination and determine whether the shots have been mounted or no", S. Truzyan said and added that RA law enforcement agencies consider the shots mounted".

3 comments:

nazarian said...

I had no idea UN did authentication of online videos. Maybe that's why they have asked the UN. When, and if, they get a response, they'll be like 'we wanted expert help but couldn't find any'.

They still insist on treating people as if they are idiots.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Doesn't look like th government are requesting the UN do the authentication. Looks they're requesting assistance in finding an international or national (outside of Armenia) body to do so.

You want an international and independent study or investigation or not?

Seems like a good move to me given that usually they send such videos to H1 or Russia and we never hear anything again. On the other hand, the video evidence is compelling enough for the senior prosecutor to reserve judgment until such a study or investigation is undertaken and complete.

Certainly, it's something to keep an eye on in case it all gets forgotten.

nazarian said...

If you want experts you either contact the US or the UK. There is no need to run around and ask for references - we all know where the MI5 or FBI/CIA are.

They are trying to just create an impression that they are doing something until we all forget about it when a semi-major event happens in the future.