Politics 13:36 05/08/2021 Armenia

Panorama.am photographer banned from entering Armenian parliament

Since August 5, Panorama.am photographer Lilian Galstyan has been banned from entering the building of Armenia’s National Assembly. The decision was made by Deputy Chief of Staff of the National Assembly, Anna Grigoryan, with a notification letter sent to the editorial office of Panorama.am.

Incidentally, the photo series by Lilian Galstyan of the security measures in place at the parliament published on the Panorama.am news website have gone viral on the Armenian social media platforms, sparking wide criticism of the government.

The National Assembly said in the letter that while carrying out her professional activities, the photographer allegedly violated Clause 2.8 of Appendix 1 of the parliament speaker’s decision on the approval of the rules in the building of the National Assembly, according to which “it is prohibited videotaping, filming and photographing of security personnel during the course of their professional activities on the territory of the protected area, including at checkpoints."

It is worth noting that Clause 2.8 of the legal act was added by Alen Simonyan on July 30, when he was not still the parliament speaker and temporarily assumed the speaker’s duties because then Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan went on vacation on July 27-30.

To note, the Panorama.am photographer did not take photos at any of the National Assembly checkpoints located on Baghramyan Avenue and Demirchyan Street.

Some of the published photos were taken at the courtyard of the National Assembly, which, according to Nikol Pashinyan's statement made three years ago, should have been open even to ordinary citizens and they should have been allowed to enter and walk around the park bounded by the National Assembly.

While the rest of the photos were taken at the corridors and the parliament sessions hall, where the security officers, who, in fact, have a problem to hide their faces, look directly and with an open face at the hall from where live streaming takes place.

In fact, the National Assembly has been transformed into a number of checkpoints located in a row, where media representatives are not allowed to videotape, film or take photos. In this case, it would be great if signs were installed on the territory of parliament informing about the number and location of checkpoints and, why not, the newly introduced restrictions.

Panorama.am will also submit an inquiry to the National Assembly to understand how many checkpoints operate in the National Assembly of the eighth convocation, how many security guards are deployed there every day and what they found from members of the legislature in the previous days.

Panorama.am calls the attention of journalistic organizations, that are really concerned about freedom of speech in Armenia, restrictions on professional activities and the movement of journalists, to the fact that the photographer has been banned from entering the National Assembly.

Incidentally, numerous media representatives have always worked at the parliament to cover the activities of the National Assembly, also providing live broadcasts from the corridors and the courtyard of the parliament. If there is a risk that the faces of security officers may be seen, they had better wear masks, especially when the indoor mask mandate remains in place.

It is also worth noting that security officers at the National Assembly wear camouflage uniforms.

Source Panorama.am
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