Even the lawyer of Valeri Paryakov, who killed seven members of the Avetisyan family, did not receive such threats and insults as did the advocates of the Yerkrapah union leader Manvel Grigoryan, Arsen Mkrtchyan, one of Manvel Grigoryan’s lawyers assures.
After assuming Manvel Grigoryan’s defense, who was detained for buying, selling, keeping, transporting or carrying illegal weapons, ammunition, explosives, as well as making large-scale embezzlement, Arsen Mkrtchyan started receiving insults and threats. Threats were directed against him as well as his children.
On an occasion, the driving instructor refused to teach him motorcycle driving, saying “if you are Manvel Grigoryan`s lawyer, I will not teach you. Strangers in the streets have told the Fascist’s lawyer is coming”, tell the attorney.
One of the authors of the threats, Karen Satyan, was quickly detected by the police. However, the lawyer did not file a complaint and the person was released from criminal liability. “I realized that he could not carry out his threats. He had just ill imagination. After all, my goal was not to complain but to show the rest that others can be caught too,” says the lawyer.
According to Arsen Mkrtchyan, the most unpleasant thing is that the threats apply also to family members. And it is very difficult to explain the family members that the threats are not real.
If the person who threatened Arsen Mkrtchyan was quickly detected, just within a few hours, the person who threatened Arayik Papikyan and his family members for being involved in defense of “Sasna Tsrer” and “Zhirayr Sefilyan and others” cases, was not detected for a year.
“I have long lost any hopes that the case can be solved. I have no expectations at all. Though it was very interesting that such a problem arose again, again connected with a comment in Facebook, and the police discovered the author within a couple of hours. I do not know what the reason was. The old-regime police was dealing with my case, and I do not rule out their prejudiced attitude,” says Arayik Papikyan.
The president of the Helsinki Association, Nina Karapetyants, who has been defending Sasna Tsrer and Zhirayr Sefilyan and others, has not received direct threats, but psychological pressure has been applied on many occasions. “They were hinting that my participation in those cases was not desirable. As a result, my cash flows have been checked by the Special Services; some structures are aware that there has been no change in my lifestyle.
They could not understand: if I had no income, did not have financial expectations, why would I participate in those trials? I explained that this was my job, my profession,” says Nina Karapetyants.
Prior to the Velvet Revolution, due to attorney Tigran Atanesyan’s legal contribution, the Mayor Davit Hambardzoumyan and the Vice-Mayor of Masis region (who participated in clashes with the peaceful demonstrators), were released from detention. This triggered a series of insulting comments on him and his family members on social networks. Even the insults under his 5-years-old child`s picture did not disheartened attorney Tigran Atanesyan.
“If somebody curses an advocate for his professional work, that person is not worthy of mention at all. It is the multitude of such characters that creates a problem, a concern. The reasons are different. Some of them are definitely being guided; they are the fakes’ army. The guidance can come from the new government or from various other directions.
During the revolution, the number of fakes grew up,” says lawyer Tigran Atanesyan.
Attacks, threats, and curses were spread on the Internet against attorneys who assumed the defense of the second President Robert Kocharyan. Lawyer Hayk Alumyan mentioned that he even was called a traitor. “It is clear to me that their authors are convinced that the current authorities will tolerate it. This is what is painful, not the insults themselves,” the lawyer said.
Artur Sakunts, the head of the Helsinki Citizens` Assembly Vanadzor Office, is convinced that any pressure, threats, or harassment against advocates are unacceptable. But, on the other hand, he thinks that every citizen has the right to express his or her opinion, including sharp criticism.
“It is up to the lawyer not obey to the public opinion but to do his job. If there is a circumstance that hinders the activities of an advocate, it must be proved. And, regarding the argument that the authorities must bear responsibility for public opinion, I categorically reject the idea,” says Artur Sakunts.
According to him, the right addressee of the advocates’ authority is the Chamber of Advocates. That body should be able to defend the interests of advocates. And no one has the authority to change public opinion.
“To blame the government, to demand to make a statement or to attempt to curtail public criticisms about any action, is unacceptable. From the legal point of view, it cannot be justified,” adds the human rights activist.
According to him, if we allow or trust the authorities to regulate the public opinion, it will be ground for various abuses by the same authorities. In that case, the same public opinion, according to Artur Sakunts, would be extremely negative about the activities of the government.