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Jailed Armenian Opposition Activist In Solitary Confinement

Nikol Pashinian, Armenian opposition activist, claims he was assaulted in prison.
Nikol Pashinian, Armenian opposition activist, claims he was assaulted in prison.
YEREVAN -- A jailed Armenian opposition leader and newspaper editor has been moved to solitary confinement after claiming to have been assaulted in prison, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Nikol Pashinian alleged last week that two masked men woke and hit him during the night in his cell at the Kosh prison near Yerevan. Both the prison administration and Justice Ministry deny the report.

Pashinian told RFE/RL on November 16, that prison officials offered to move him into a solitary cell for security reasons. "I agreed on the condition that it would not affect my [imprisonment] regime," he said, adding that officials guaranteed his continued "normal communication with the outside world."

"The prison administration has broken that pledge. I am now isolated and kept under a stricter regime," said the editor of the pro-opposition daily "Haykakan Zhamanak."

Arsen Babayan, a spokesman for a Justice Ministry department that manages prisons, said Pashinian wanted to be in solitary confinement "for security considerations." Babayan also insisted that Pashinian is able to leave his cell and make phone calls.

Pashinian was able to speak to RFE/RL during a court hearing held at Kosh on his lawsuit against prison authorities. He claims they want to illegally prolong his imprisonment by five months.

Pashinian was sentenced early this year to seven years in jail for his role in the 2008 postelection unrest in Yerevan, a sentence both he and the opposition consider politically motivated. A general amnesty declared by the government last year means he will have to serve only half of that sentence.

The authorities say Pashinian will be freed in June 2013. The outspoken oppositionist, who surrendered to police in July 2009, argues that they failed to take into account the time he spent in pretrial detention.