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PACE Panel Puts Off Final Verdict On Armenia

Supporters of opposition presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian held a protest in Yerevan on March 1. Some 100 are said to still be in prison.
YEREVAN -- A Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) committee has deferred making a recommendation regarding Armenia's treatment of opposition officials.

At a meeting in Valencia, Spain, on March 30, PACE's Monitoring Committee discussed Armenian officials' compliance with a January PACE resolution that deplored the continuing imprisonment of dozens of Armenian opposition members and supporters arrested following the February 2008 presidential election.

But the Strasbourg-based assembly did not suspend the voting rights of its Armenian members, as it had threatened, citing Yerevan's pledge to amend Criminal Code articles used against the most prominent of the arrested oppositionists.

David Harutiunian, who heads Armenia's PACE delegation and attended the Valencia meeting, told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that the Monitoring Committee welcomed the amendments passed by the Armenian parliament on March 18 but stressed "the importance of enforcing the law," which means releasing the opposition members.

Harutiunian said such action will be expected before PACE's next session in late April.