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Another Armenian Oppositionist Released From Jail

Opposition activist Gabriel Gabrielian is interviewed on his release from prison on December 6.
Opposition activist Gabriel Gabrielian is interviewed on his release from prison on December 6.
YEREVAN -- Another Armenian opposition activist jailed on charges stemming from postelection unrest in Yerevan in 2008 has been granted parole and released from jail, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Gabriel Gabrielian's release on December 6 makes him the third jailed supporter of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian to have been released on parole in the last several weeks. He had served about one-third of his seven-year sentence.

Gabrielian, 51, is an agricultural market worker arrested in April 2008 and later tried and convicted of "organizing mass disorder" in what the government described as a botched attempt by the opposition to seize power.

Like dozens of other opposition members and supporters, Gabrielian proclaimed his innocence during the trial. He spent the last seven months in a prison hospital.

"I am thankful to my people for fighting for my release," he said. "I was freed by my people.... We are not and cannot be broken."

Mushegh Saghatelian, a well-known opposition figure and controversial former chief of Armenia's prisons, was granted parole in late November after serving half of his five-year prison term on the charge of carrying a knife and resisting police by violent means.

Ashot Manukian, the jailed leader of the opposition Armenian National Movement's chapter in the northern Lori Province, was released under the same procedure in late October. Manukian had been convicted of using violence against a representative of the authorities during the 2008 unrest and sentenced to five years in prison.

Ten other Ter-Petrossian loyalists arrested following the February 2008 presidential election still remain behind bars. The HAK considers them political prisoners and demands their release by the end of the year.

In an earlier interview with RFE/RL, Ter-Petrossian said he was certain that all of the prisoners would be released and suggested that the Council of Europe would increase its pressure on Armenia in this matter.