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Armenian Opposition Party Pulls Out Of Local Elections, Citing Members' Arrests

YEREVAN -- Armenia's opposition Heritage party has pulled out of local elections because of the recent arrests of its three leading members.

The party said on August 15 that the arrests last month of Armen Martirosian, David Sanasarian, and Hovsep Khurshudian were baseless and the charges against them were "fabricated," adding that the party will not take part in local elections in September-October.

The party members along with an opposition activist, Andrias Ghukasian, were arrested on charges of organizing mass disturbances during public protests on July 29 and remanded to pretrial detention earlier this month.

They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Opposition parties in Armenia have often avoided participation in local elections, claiming that candidates affiliated with or supported by the ruling Republican Party extensively use administrative resources and vote-buying schemes that preclude fair elections.