Journalists Injured Amid Protest Coverage: Their Stories

Tigranuhi Martirosyan

Journalist, SMM specialist

During the “Tavush for the Motherland” protests in Yerevan on June 12, journalists, cameramen, and photographers were injured due to the extraordinary measures employed by the police and the resulting clashes with the protesters. The movement was demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister.

Some are still undergoing treatment in medical facilities, while others have been discharged and are carrying out their professional responsibilities.

Media.am discovered that not all journalists at the scene had insurance. They also lacked the necessary means to protect themselves from potential police actions because they were unprepared for such a scenario.

NEWS.am operator Vazgen Yetumyan, who has suffered a leg fracture and shrapnel injury, is currently hospitalized at the First University Hospital.

Narine Hovhannisyan, the deputy editor-in-chief of the site, stated that a cast had been placed on the operator’s leg. Still, depending on the situation, they may proceed with an operation.

Hovhannisyan points out that even though the operator does not have medical insurance, the medical expenses should be covered by the state because Vazgen was injured by the police while performing his professional duty.

“If needed, we are ready to cover the expenses, but we hope everything will be handled within the framework of the state order. I spoke to the operator yesterday and asked him how the incident happened. I inquired, ‘Vazgen, did you hear them announce that the police were going to employ extraordinary measures and that the journalists should leave?’ He said no, there was no such announcement. Otherwise, he would have moved to another location. Additionally, Vazgen mentioned that when they started using stun grenades, he and the people with him fled to Lovers’ Park. Still, there, they also started throwing at the fleeing people,” stated the deputy editor.

She notes that they did not see the need for protective gear for the journalists because such actions were unexpected.

During the clashes in the same location, the CivilNet operator also suffered an injury; he had a leg contusion.

The website editor, Karen Harutyunyan, mentioned that the operator had medical insurance. However, he couldn’t confirm whether the medical assistance provided in the hospital was covered by insurance or if it was provided through a state program. According to him, the operator is currently at home but is under medical supervision.

MediaHub.am journalist Nare Gevorgyan sustained an abdominal contusion. The clashes began at the Baghramyan-Demirchyan intersection when the Archbishop and NA opposition deputy Artur Sargsyan urged the police to open the wall so the deputy could go to the National Assembly to participate in the session.

“The police announced that extraordinary measures would be applied if the protest participants did not disperse. However, due to the loud noise, I am certain that no one heard it except for me; I heard it because I was standing directly in front of them. Suddenly, the groups began pushing each other forcefully from both sides. We, the journalists, were literally crushed during the commotion. Many journalists even fell to the ground. I was standing beside the Archbishop, with Nane, an ABC media journalist, behind me and their cameraman, whose tripod accidentally pressed against my stomach during the chaos.”

I couldn’t catch my breath at some point, possibly after about five or six minutes. A man rescued me when I was semi-conscious and carried me to Baghramyan. I was struggling to breathe, and my stomach was in terrible pain. People around me tried to help by pouring water on my head and neck to wake me up. They called an ambulance, and I also informed my office to come for me. When the ambulance arrived, I told the doctor about my breathing difficulties and stomach pain but refused to go to the hospital by ambulance. Instead, the editorial office sent a car, and we went to Nair’s medical center, where I underwent a CT (computed tomography) examination. The results showed that I had suffered a concussion. The journalist also mentioned that the editorial office covers all medical expenses from work-related injuries.

Two ABC Media teams were at the scene, taking turns covering the events. According to journalist Nane Hayrapetyan, both teams sustained injuries. Nane Hayrapetyan and cameraman Arman Gharibyan were injured during a stampede, while journalist Aghvan Asoyan and cameraman Edik Malakyan were injured when the stun grenades were detonated. Nane Hayrapetyan also mentioned that commentator Abraham Gasparyan was present with them.

“Archbishop Bagrat stepped off the stage and approached the police, but they told him to stay away. He then intervened, assuring there would be no conflict. Citizens raised their hands to signal peaceful intentions. However, the police lowered their helmet visors and started pushing. I was caught in the middle as they pushed aggressively, and as a result, I fell. I briefly lost consciousness due to the pressure. When I regained consciousness, a boy was trying to help me up. I went to the office, and others were taken to the hospital. I declined to be hospitalized and chose to recover at home. My colleagues have been discharged from the hospital, but Abraham Gasparyan remains hospitalized with serious injuries,” explained Nane Hayrapetyan.

The journalist noted that they did not have medical insurance but did not have to pay for the medical examination. Everything was done within the framework of the state order.

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