The cases represent a substantial threat for both journalists and media outlets. For instance, one alleged libel victim has demanded that a journalist pay approximately $477,000 after an unfavourable article. Journalists, on average, earn 400 euro a month.
Yenokyan adds that the pressure appears to be selective, and media outlets that are seen as being anti-Pashinyan are suffering more. For instance, the office of an opposition-leaning media outlet, Hayeli, was vandalized after it published an article that was critical about a government policy.
"I fear that will lead to more violence against media outlets," Yenokyan says.
The president of pro-opposition Hayeli press club and Hayeli.am, Anzhela Tovmasyan, now fears for her safety. Her lawyer appealed to Armenian law enforcement to provide protection for her, but the request was denied. “Any crime -- even hooliganism -- if it is not condemned when it occurs, there is a risk that it could happen again,” Tovmasyan says. “I am afraid that all this could happen again.’’
She says that the four people who attacked her office have not expressed any regret for their actions and have even boasted about it on Facebook. “We saw they have many photos with the members of government, they don’t even hide it,” she notes.
An advisor to the Prosecutor General condemned the attack and said a criminal investigation was launched into the men’s actions. Armenia’s Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan also spoke out against the incident, calling it an attack against free media. But Tovmasyan argues the government’s response was insufficient. She fears that attacks against her website and other media outlets could continue.
“I am sure this is [a move] against the opposition media. I am convinced that this was organized by the government and sponsored by the government. I repeat that I am afraid pressure on opposition media outlets will continue.”
For some journalists, the biggest threat can come from media outlets themselves, however.