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Ailing Armenian Oppositionist Returned To Jail

Sasun Mikaelian

Sasun Mikaelian

YEREVAN -- Imprisoned Armenian opposition figure Sasun Mikaelian was returned to jail on December 28 after spending more than three weeks in a civilian hospital in Yerevan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Mikaelian, 52, was taken to the Armenia Medical Center on December 4 and had surgery related to his respiratory tract.

Avetik Minasian, a senior doctor at the center, told RFE/RL that law enforcement officials decided to send him back to prison based on written recommendations by several Armenian doctors.

Minasian said on December 23 that the condition of Mikaelian's heart is worrisome and that he might need treatment at a cardiology clinic.

Minasian was more cautious on December 28, saying, "I am not qualified to make conclusions or give advice on behalf of cardiologists."

The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), of which Mikaelian is a prominent member, condemned his return to prison, saying it was the result of a "political decision" made by the country's leadership.

Like other prominent allies of HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrossian, Mikaelian was convicted in June of organizing "mass disturbances" after the controversial February 2008 presidential election and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Mikaelian denied the charges and said they were politically motivated.