YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The Armenian authorities deployed scores of security officers on Monday, August 2, to seriously restrict journalists’ freedom of movement inside the parliament building in Yerevan.
The unprecedented restrictions were imposed at the start of the inaugural session of Armenia’s new parliament elected in June.
Journalists accredited to the National Assembly discovered that they can no longer interview lawmakers coming out of the parliament chamber or approach the offices of deputies from the ruling Civil Contract party located in a large section of the parliament compound.
A corridor leading to that section was tightly guarded by uniformed officers of the State Protection Service, an agency that provides bodyguards to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and other senior state officials. They did not allow any reporter to walk through it.
Parliamentary correspondents managed to briefly talk to Alen Simonyan, a close Pashinyan associate elected parliament speaker later in the day. Simonian claimed that no restrictions have been imposed on their work.
Taguhi Tovmasyan, an opposition lawmaker and a former reporter who warned of such restrictions last week, said the parliament administration likewise assured her in writing that the rules for press coverage of the National Assembly have not changed.