Leo Nicolian (Facebook)

Leo Nicolian Is No Hero

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To the Editor:

I am writing this op ed in response to the media coverage of French journalist Leo Nicolian’s “hunger strike” at the Yerevan airport in protest of policies of Nikol Pashinyan.

Leo is a political opportunist who is controversial for more than his journalism: he is hiding his crimes against women in Artsakh and Armenia. Journalists who are interested should try to uncover Leo’s own criminal record in Armenia, which would show that he served jail time for violence against women. The persistent issue of violence against Armenian women often takes a backseat when there are pressing concerns of our borders and nation being threatened. Nicolian has also been identified by the European Jewish Congress as a “conspiracy theorist” who participated in a hate crime on a French bus.

I have had my own hurtful experiences with Nicolian: I met Leo Nicolian in Artsakh when we were both there during the 1990s. His acquaintance and former colleague Max Archak Silvaslian has publicly corroborated my account of Leo’s brutal attack on me.

I was in Martuni, Artsakh, visiting Monte Melkonian. As I was walking down the road, Leo came behind me, put his hand over my mouth, sprayed mace in my eyes and began grabbing at my video camera to try to steal it. Max watched the whole event unfold and said, “Let this be a lesson to you, Anoush. This is a man’s world.”

Monte called the police after this incident, and they found the camera in Leo’s room. In retaliation, Leo said I “was a spy,” and I was banned from Artsakh. Later, I had to obtain a letter from Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian from New York that verified I was a patriot in order to be reinstated and allowed back.

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When I see images of Leo in Zvartnots Airport, manipulating the movement in Armenia to garner sympathy and support for his wretched condition, I am outraged. He is a con artist for his own aggrandizement, and who knows exactly how to play people. It’s unethical for anyone to co-opt this movement for the survival of our nation as a publicity stunt for their own personal gain.

In solidarity and justice,

Anoush Ter Taulian

New York

People: Leo Nicolian
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