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Armenian Oppositionists Freed In Amnesty

Ex-Foreign Minister Aleksandr Arzumanian (left) defends himself at his trial in Yerevan in December 2008.
YEREVAN -- Four Armenian opposition figures imprisoned following unrest after last year's disputed presidential election have been released under a general amnesty, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported.

Parliament deputies Hakob Hakobian and Miasnik Malkhasian, former Foreign Minister Aleksandr Arzumanian, and activist Suren Sirunian were freed after being convicted and sentenced to prison terms on charges of organizing the March 2008 postelection violence that left eight demonstrators and two police dead.

A fifth oppositionist, Sasun Mikalian, was sentenced in Abovian to eight years' imprisonment, meaning he is not eligible for the amnesty, which extends only to those sentenced to not more than five years.

Some 2,000 people are expected to be released under the amnesty, which is seen as the government's attempt to respond to demands by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) that Armenia release all oppositionists arrested on "seemingly artificial or politically motivated charges."