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The main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) pledged on Monday to launch soon a fresh campaign of anti-government protests to ensure the release of two dozen supporters remaining in prison.

“We are going to mount a new wave of protests both inside the country and in international structures such as the Council of Europe,” Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s central office coordinator, told RFE/RL. “We will do everything to ensure that the 21 political prisoners as well as those wanted by the authorities can live freely in their country.”

Zurabian did not disclose concrete actions planned by the HAK. The opposition alliance is scheduled to hold its next rally in Yerevan on September 18.

The detainees were among associates and supporters of HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian who were arrested following the disputed presidential election of February 2008. Some 30 of them were set free in June under a general amnesty initiated by President Serzh Sarkisian.

Ter-Petrosian said the remaining “political prisoners” will be set free this fall as he embarked on a nationwide campaign of visits to their families last week. He said that will happen as a result of a “change” in the political situation in Armenia. He did not elaborate.

According to Zurabian, the HAK leader believes that the Sarkisian administration will be overwhelmed by serious challenges stemming from the ongoing economic crisis, Armenia’s controversial rapprochement with Turkey and an international push to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “The illegitimate and corrupt authorities can not meet those challengers today,” he said. “They will get tangled. I’m sure that it will happen already this fall in October or early November and that this regime’s complete failure will be evident to everyone.”

Sarkisian is expected to meet Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in October for fresh talks which international mediators hope will mark a breakthrough in their efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict. Ter-Petrosian and members of his entourage have strongly criticized Sarkisian’s Karabakh policy despite their past support for a compromise deal with Azerbaijan.

Zurabian said that the Armenian government is now following a “path of defeat” and that Armenians should “rise up” against it.
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