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June 12, 2011
Cost of “Blood”: “Zhamanak” Daily Must Pay 3 Million Drams to the Kocharyans
By Nane Makuchyan
Cost of “Blood”: “Zhamanak” Daily Must Pay 3 Million Drams to the Kocharyans

The trial of the case "Bella and Sedrak Kocharyans against “Skizb Media Kentron” LLC, founder of “Zhamanak” daily, is over in the General Jurisdiction Court of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts, and the court verdict is already available.

The court, under the presidency of Judge Arayik Melkumyan running the case, requires the daily’s (“Zhamanak”) founder to publish a retraction on the information published in three articles of the same newspaper last year. These articles, according also to the court, discredit the honor, dignity and business reputation of the RA second President Robert Kocharyan's family.

The court also decided to confiscate from the newspaper founder one million dram (more than $2,600) for insult and two million drams (more than $5,300) for slander in favor of the Kocharyans. Another claim of the plaintiff regarding legal costs of 3 million drams (more than $7,800) was rejected reasoned as groundless.

Basis and the whole essence for the complaint brought against by the Kocharyans’ representative at the court were the following parts taken from the 3 articles of the "Zhamanak" daily:

All the below mentioned quotes are taken from the court verdict posted on website (judiciary portal).

“Zhamanak” daily, September 25, 2010, an article with a headline “The Blood from the Kocharyans, the Kaif from Tsarukyan, and the Anti-shock from Lfik”: “Even Bella Kocharyan, the wife of the RA second President Robert Kocharyan, stays behind him at the pharmaceutical market.” “It is noteworthy that the name of the pharmacy network "911" belonging to the Kocharyans was not included on the list; by blood preparations and plasma substitutes market "Comstar” LLC and “Liqvor” CJSC occupy one third of the Armenian drug market. 55 percent of the market belongs to the first, and 40 percent to the second. These companies, according to our sources, are sponsored by the Kocharyans’ family.”

 “Zhamanak” daily, September 29, 2010, an article with a headline “The Diomand Rob”: “Thus, as reported by our sources in power, recently the Kocharyans have had another economic achievement. We have learnt that Sedrak Kocharyan, Robert Kocharyan's elder son, has obtained a diamond mine in India, formulating that deal as an investment. The deal of mine acquisition was made through "Converse Bank". Worth mentioning, according to some reports, Kocharyans have diamond mines also in Namibia.”

“Zhamanak” daily, October 7, 2010, an article with a headline “Volvo+Spayka=Sedrak Kocharyan”: “………in Armenia, the giant truck manufacturing Swedish Company “Volvo Trucks” has entrusted its official representation to "SPAYKA” Company. ........ The point is that this company is officially owned by a person with a name and surname David Ghazaryan, but in reality the company belongs to the Kocharyans, in particular, to Robert Kocharyan's son Sedrak Kocharyan. ”

The court, in fact, considered to be proved the factor of libel in this information (which has defamed the Kocharyans' honor, dignity and business reputation), especially that the defendant, i.e. the publisher of “Zhamanak” daily, did not so far confirm their factual accuracy and compliance with reality. Consequently, as already mentioned, the court decided to oblige the newspaper to compensate by two million drams.

And how were confirmed the grounds to satisfy the Kocharyans’ claim regarding the “insult”? However, the use of this word in plural is inappropriate in this case.

The only ground of the court verdict regarding “insult” is the word “blood” mentioned in the headline of the article “The Blood from the Kocharyans, the Kaif from Tsarukyan, and the Anti-shock from Lfik”.

A quote from the verdict: “Thus, the Court notes that according to paragraph 2 of Article 1087.1 of the Civil Code only the phrase in the title “THE BLOOD FROM THE KOCHARYANS...” out of the above mentioned interpretation and information actually published in articles and represented by the plaintiff is considered as insult, as in this case, the information spread by the defendant under such title is a phrase attributed to the plaintiff’s family, without subjective separation, that is, it, as such, regardless of a public character it bears, is not a fact, moreover, here it is not essential the prerequisite’s compliance or discrepancy to the reality, which means that the court should consider the above mentioned phrase  under the definition of "offensive".”

Continuation: “Thus, the word “Blood” by its letter composition and by its simple literal interpretation does not contain elements of insult and it is used in compliance to reality, whereas according to the title of the published article, the word “Blood” in the phrase attributed to the Kocharyans loses its literal interpretation, as the reader is lead to negative impressions while reading this article, that is, persons to whom the blood is attributed can be perceived negatively through evaluation of different ways (for example as a person who has committed a crime), so the defendant has spread tha phrase aiming to defame the honor and dignity of the plaintiffs’ family, that is, to smear the objective opinion of the public…”

Finally: “…The court underlines that the phrase set in the above-mentioned title could be discussed and adopted at quite another platform, that is, it could be adopted as a non-offensive expression by its literal interpretation if only it were possible to determine its non-negative meaning from such title, while the phrase used by the defendant cannot be understood by its common sense simply, as similar phrase is usually used to evoke negative impression and emotions, and it cannot call up positive features of respect and reputation towards the plaintiff among the readers, the wide circles of the public, but quite the opposite: it creates a negative impression and opinion about the persons to whom the title is attributed, while there are no even explanations in the article on the negative meaning of the title, but on the contrary, the information disseminator attempts to make the negative meaning of the "Blood" more expressive and emphasized into the actual reality, in his opinion, through confirming it with corresponding information, which has been expressed by the defendant by using a phrase in the title as  an evaluation confirmed by certain facts and aiming at a negative purpose.

The Court notes that all the other information referred to by the plaintiff is considered as libel according to item 3 of Article 1087.1 of the Civil Code of the Republic of Armenia...”

It turns out that the Kocharyans were offended by the word "blood", why?

Today when information can be easily spread, did the judge count on not publishing these lines when he composed them which can confuse those who do not have law education. For instance, what comment can be given to this expression: “it can be understood through different negative ways of evaluation of people whom blood can refer (e.g. as a person who committed crime).”

Or another expression: “The court emphasizes that the expression can be discussed on completely other level, i.e. it could be explained as not insulting only in one case: if it is possible to guess it’s not insulting sense in the title.”

What an unconquerable obstacle: if the reader and the Kocharyans had read a few lines more after the title “Blood from the Kocharyans...” they would have understood that the point was just blood plasma. Finally, what does this mean: “it impresses the reader negatively...”

Which reader? If it is the plaintiff, then an explanation is needed why he was negatively impressed, or even insulted, by the word “blood” in the title.


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