Law-enforcement authorities insisted on Tuesday that Sasun Mikaelian, one of the Armenian opposition figures remaining in prison, is in a “stable” condition, denying opposition claims that it is continuing to deteriorate.
Mikaelian was controversially sentenced in June to eight years in prison for his alleged role in last year’s post-election violence in Yerevan. He was also convicted of illegal arms possession, a charge that effectively disqualified him from a general amnesty that resulted in the release of dozens of fellow oppositionists also arrested in the wake of the unrest.
Later in the summer, Mikaelian, who strongly denied the accusations as politically motivated, was taken to a prison hospital in Yerevan after complaining of heart problems. He described his condition as “extremely bad” when he was visited by representatives of Armenia’s state human rights ombudsman, Armen Harutiunian, last week.
A spokesman for Harutiunian said on Monday that the ombudsman will ask Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian to consider letting Mikaelian undergo treatment in a civilian hospital.
“The Ministry of Justice has not yet received the human rights ombudsman’s letter mentioned by you,” Arsen Babayan, a spokesman for a ministry department running Armenia’s prisons, told RFE/RL the next day. “The ministry will discuss and make an appropriate decision after receiving it.”
“Sasun Mikaelian’s health condition is satisfactory and stable,” said Babayan. “There has been no negative change.”
The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), of which Mikaelian is a prominent member, denied that, however. “Representatives of the Congress are in contact with Sasun Mikaelian on a daily basis,” Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s central office coordinator, told RFE/RL. “His condition is really bad. He has heart problems and blood pressure fluctuations.”
Zurabian insisted that those problems can not be treated in prison conditions. “The only way out is to immediately release and give him adequate medical assistance,” he said.