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Armenian Opposition Group Demands Activist's Release

Tigran Arakelian is corraled by police in an undated photo from a protest in Yerevan
YEREVAN -- Several dozen young supporters of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) marched to the Prosecutor-General's Office in Yerevan on August 7 to demand the release of a fellow activist who was arrested after distributing opposition leaflets last month, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Tigran Arakelian, 28, was arrested and charged with assault after a July 1 incident in which plainclothes police confronted young opposition activists as they publicized a forthcoming HAK rally in the city center of the capital.

Arakelian and two others were injured in the incident and hospitalized, and they claimed police punched, kicked, and pistol-whipped them.

One HAK activist who was at the protest the same day told RFE/RL, "I'm here today because the authorities have arrested Tigran Arakelian illegally."

He said there was "no truth" to the charges that have been brought against Arakelian.

If found guilty, Arakelian could be sentenced to five years in jail.

Police say the officers were attempting to break up a brawl involving 60 youths when Arakelian was arrested.

Meanwhile, HAK leader and former Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian continues to visit the families of prominent supporters who remain in jail more than 17 months after Armenia's disputed presidential election.

He said in the town of Maralik that "these are just visits to the relatives of our comrades who are still in prison," adding, "One should not look for any political purpose here. This is our friendly obligation."