A delegation of the European Parliament has visited a maximum-security prison in Yerevan to meet with several Armenian opposition leaders arrested following last year’s disputed presidential election, it emerged on Tuesday.
The European Union lawmakers arrived in Yerevan earlier this week to attend a regular session of an EU-Armenian commission on inter-parliamentary cooperation. The political situation in Armenia and its government’s human rights record were among the issues on the meeting’s agenda.
The head of the delegation, Marie Anne Isler Beguin, refused to name the jailed oppositionists that she and the other members of the European Parliament visited on Monday. “It’s a secret,” she said.
Other sources told RFE/RL that the visiting lawmakers met with Former Foreign Minister Aleksandr Arzumanian, former Deputy Prosecutor-General Gagik Jahangirian and two opposition parliamentarians.
“The reason for our visit is that these cases are known in the European Union and we wanted to have a discussion with them and to have our own opinion and … to know much more about these cases,” said Beguin.
Beguin said she and her colleagues also wanted to clarify whether the Council of Europe is right to demand the release of many of more than 50 loyalists of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian remaining in prison. “It’s the Council of Europe, not the European Parliament, that is really involved in that question,” she stressed.
In three resolutions on Armenia adopted over the past year, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has said that many of these oppositionists were prosecuted on “seemingly artificial or politically motivated charges.” The EU has been far more cautious on the matter.