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Armenian Court Curbs Activist's Jail Sentence

Nikol Pashinian is editor of the "Haykakan zhamanak" newspaper.
Nikol Pashinian is editor of the "Haykakan zhamanak" newspaper.
An Armenian court has reduced the sentence of a jailed opposition activist but refused to acquit him of charges related to postelection violence, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Nikol Pashinian, 34, editor of the daily "Haykakan zhamanak," was sentenced in January to seven years in prison for his alleged role in the 2008 unrest in Yerevan.

A Yerevan district court found him guilty of inciting mass disturbances that left 10 dead and more than 200 others injured.

The appellate court rejected acquittal for Pashinian but cut his sentence by half, leaving him with three years and two months remaining on his sentence.

Pashinian's lawyer, Lusine Saakian, called the court's decision "shameful." Pashinian and the opposition Armenian National Congress, of which he is an active member, say the charges against him are politically motivated.

An amnesty bill passed by parliament in June mandated the immediate release of all opposition figures arrested following the 2008 clashes in Yerevan who were sentenced to up to five years in prison.

The law also stipulates that others who received harsher sentences can be set free after serving only half of their jail sentences. That provision will apply to Pashinian.