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Armenian Court Allows Jailed Editor To Run For Parliament

Nikol Pashinian in court in Yerevan in late October
Nikol Pashinian in court in Yerevan in late October
An Armenian administrative court has ordered police to issue jailed opposition leader and newspaper editor Nikol Pashinian with papers allowing him to run in an upcoming parliamentary by-election, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Pashinian announced his intention to run for a parliament seat late last month after going on trial for charges that he helped organize March 2008 postelection clashes that left 10 people dead and more than 200 injured.

He surrendered to police in July after having been a fugitive for 16 months.

Under Armenian law, only citizens who have permanently resided in the country for at least five years preceding an election can run for the National Assembly.

Their residency has to be certified by the Department of Passports and Visas (OVIR). The OVIR branch in Pashinian's native town of Ijevan refused to provide such certification earlier this month, saying the outspoken editor of the daily "Haykakan Zhamanak" was not in Armenia from February 2008 through July 2009.

The court ruled on November 20 that the OVIR failed to prove that Pashinian was not in the country and should therefore certify his five-year residency with a letter to the Central Election Commission.

Lusine Sahakian, one of Pashinian's lawyers, told RFE/RL she was surprised by the verdict.

"To be honest, I have long ceased to expect legitimate verdicts in the Republic of Armenia," Sahakian said.