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Armenian Opposition Activist Freed Before Trial

Davit Kiramijian
Davit Kiramijian
A young Armenian opposition activist has unexpectedly been set free after spending a month in pretrial detention on controversial charges, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Davit Kiramijian was among at least 15 people detained on May 31 in Yerevan in clashes between riot police and several dozen supporters of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK).

All detainees except Kiramijian were freed in the following days. The 19-year-old university student was charged with "hooliganism" and remanded in two-month custody by a Yerevan court.

The same court ordered his immediate release on July 2, citing the completion of a criminal investigation into the incident. It said Kiramijian and another young activist detained on May 31, Sargis Gevorgian, will nonetheless stand trial on July 14.

Gevorgian was charged with assaulting a police officer before being released from police custody on June 3. The accusations leveled against the two men carry heavy fines and up to five years in jail.

Gevorgian spent three days in police custody along with his sister Ani, a journalist with the pro-opposition daily "Haykakan Zhamanak" also detained during the Liberty Square violence. The HAK condemned the police actions as illegal.

Kiramijian insisted on his innocence after walking free from Yerevan's Nubarashen prison and heading straight to HAK headquarters. He was greeted there with chants of "Davit!" and "Victory!"

Kiramijian said he did not expect to be set free before the trial.

"They took me to the prison chief, who said, 'I'm letting you go, so take care,' " he told RFE/RL.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes an official visit to Yerevan today.