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Armenian Opposition Activist's Trial Under Way

(Poor quality image) The trial of opposition activist Nikol Pashinian (second from right) started in Yerevan on October 20.
A Yerevan court has begun hearings in the case outspoken newspaper editor and opposition figure Nikol Pashinian, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Pashinian, 34, is accused of organizing last year's deadly clashes in Yerevan between security forces and opposition protesters calling for a rerun of a disputed presidential election.

He was one of the most popular and passionate speakers at the antigovernment protests staged by opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian following the February 2008 presidential ballot.

Ten people were killed, and more than 200 others wounded, in those 2008 clashes between protesters and security forces, which led outgoing President Robert Kocharian to declare a state of emergency and order mass arrests of opposition activists.

Pashinian was among several senior opposition figures who went underground and avoided arrest.

Most turned themselves in after a general amnesty was declared in June.

Under the terms of the amnesty, Pashinian will walk free if he is convicted and sentenced to less than five years in prison.

In a statement issued on October 20, Ter-Petrosian's Armenian National Congress (HAK) described the charges against Pashinian as "absolutely baseless and fabricated" and again alleged a government cover-up of the worst street violence in the country's history.