Hetq.am’s tag line is “investigate journalists,” but if you’re looking for the Armenian version of New York Times, good luck. Hetq only has 15-20 journalists, and is unable to afford to pay many of its contributors in the regions. Most of their “investigation” is simply to examine public records or go check out a river to see if there is pollution in it. However, with the sad state of journalism in Armenia, both of these activities are completely newsworthy.
In a change of pace, Hetq has recently done a serious investigation: investigating a missing $170 million from the Nairit rubber plant. They spent seven months tying together the players and shell companies that had dealings with the $170 million loan meant to get the plant operational again. When they pieced together how public money was ending up in private Russian bank accounts, they contacted the authorities. The authorities did absolutely nothing or simply gave a choice quote like “I don’t want to make any comment in order not to annoy anyone.”
On Thursday, Hetq published a scorching criticism of the government agencies that turned a blind eye to corruption. They’ve also said they’re going to publish everything they have: they’re going to name names and the evidence that proves “money laundering, bribery, abuse of state power” and other crimes.
I have to give Hetq props. This type of in-depth reporting is what gets Armenian newspapers hit with million dram slander suits. I really hope the same doesn’t happen to Hetq. While it claims it has hard evidence, the police haven’t helped in the investigation, so Hetq’s information might be weaker than what a court would demand. Without sufficient evidence to support their claims, Hetq is a sitting duck for a slander suit from any of the big shots they’re trying to call to justice.