Armenia's parliament has passed in the first reading a government-sponsored amnesty bill to mark the 100th anniversary of the First Armenian Republic and the 2,800th anniversary of the foundation of the capital, Yerevan.
All 72 lawmakers present voted in favor of the bill on October 31. The second and final reading is due to take place on November 1.
Acting Justice Minister Artak Zeynalian, who presented the draft legislation to the lawmakers, said the proposed amnesty would lead to the release of 660 inmates out of a prison population of 2,888. The amnesty would affect a total of 6,500 people in one way or another, including people under investigation or in pretrial detention.
The bill would also grant amnesty to the members of the armed group Sasna Tsrer who in July 2016 seized and held for two weeks a police compound in Yerevan, and to members of the radical opposition Founding Parliament movement who were tried and convicted of plotting a coup in 2015.
The amnesty does not apply to people who committed serious crimes, were engaged in trafficking, obstructed journalists' work, committed high treason, terrorist acts, or were involved in acts of sabotage.