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Armenian Court Extends Pre-Trial Detention Of Prominent Opposition Figure

Arrested opposition leader Nikol Pashinian makes a victory sign as he is taken to a court in Yerevan on July 2, 2009.

YEREVAN -- A court in Yerevan has extended the pre-trial custody of prominent Armenian opposition figure Nikol Pashinian, who faces charges connected with last year's postelection unrest.

RFE/RL’s Armenian Service reports that the decision to extend Pashinian’s pre-trial detention was made on August 27 in a three-hour, closed-door proceeding.

The Special Investigation Service had requested the extension. Pashinian, who is editor of the pro-opposition daily “Haykakan Zhamanak,” is charged with organizing “mass riots” and unsanctioned demonstrations as well as defying “representatives of the state authority.”

The 34-year-old Pashinian was one of the most influential and passionate speakers at the anti-government protests staged by opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian last year. He and several other opposition figures went into hiding following the violent suppression of those protests on March 1-2, 2008.

Pashinian turned himself in to Armenian law-enforcement officials on July 1 in response to an amnesty and soon after was remanded into a two-month pre-trial custody.