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Armenian Generals Urge Opposition Activist's Release

Sasun Mikaelian was sentenced for eight years
YEREVAN -- Two retired Armenian army generals have urged President Serzh Sarkisian to pardon an Armenian opposition leader arrested and imprisoned after last year's postelection unrest in Yerevan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

In a letter to Sarkisian on December 1, generals Gurgen Dalibaltayan and Arkady Ter-Tadevosian said Sasun Mikaelian's health has "drastically deteriorated."

They also cited Mikaelian's prominent role during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh in requesting his release.

"Regardless of the reasons why he ended up in prison, at risk is a human life, the life of a man who was utterly dedicated to the freedom fight in Nagorno-Karabakh and the defense of our country's borders," they wrote.

Mikaelian was sentenced in June to eight years in prison for his alleged role in the March 2008 clashes in Yerevan between security forces and protesters.

He was also convicted of illegal arms possession, a charge that disqualified him from a general amnesty.

Mikaelian, who has denied the charges against him as being politically motivated, was later taken this summer to a prison hospital after complaining of heart problems.

He described his condition as "extremely bad" when he was visited last month by representatives of Armenia's state human rights ombudsman, Armen Harutiunian, who asked officials to allow Mikaelian to go to a
civilian hospital.

The Justice Ministry rejected the request because it said Mikaelian's condition was "satisfactory and stable."