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Detained Armenian Oppositionist Registered As By-Election Candidate

Nikol Pashinian
Nikol Pashinian
YEREVAN -- A local election commission has registered Nikol Pashinian as a candidate in a January 10 by-election in Yerevan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Pashinian is editor of the popular opposition daily "Haykakan zhamanak" (Armenian Time).

He is currently on trial on charges stemming from his alleged participation in the violent clashes in Yerevan in March 2008 in the wake of the disputed presidential election.

Pashinian, who supported defeated presidential candidate and former President Levon Ter-Petrossian, went into hiding after those disturbances, but surrendered to police five months ago and was taken into custody.

The local election commission initially refused to register Pashinian as a by-election candidate because he could not produce official proof that he has lived permanently in Armenia for the past five years.

Pashinian successfully appealed that refusal.

Three other candidates have registered for the by-election for the parliament seat formerly occupied by wealthy businessman Khachatur Sukiasian, also a longtime supporter of Ter-Petrossian.

One of those three, Hmayak Hovannisian, has said he is willing to withdraw from the race in Pashinian's favor.

The three parties represented in the coalition government have not nominated candidates.