The Armenian authorities on Thursday granted parole to yet another opposition activist who was jailed in connection with the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan.
Felix Gevorgian became the fourth member of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) to be released from prison since late October.
Gevorgian was arrested and sentenced to seven years in prison following the March 1-2, 2008 clashes between security forces and opposition protesters demanding the re-run of a disputed presidential election.
A Yerevan court backed prosecutors’ claims that he put up “armed resistance” to riot police during the “mass disturbances” that left eight protesters and two security personnel dead. The 30-year-old father of four was convicted of firing gunshots in the air from an illegally owned assault rifle.
Gevorgian insisted that the charges were fabricated for political purposes as he was greeted by friends and fellow HAK activists outside Yerevan’s Erebuni prison. He claimed that he was not even at the scene of the deadly clashes on March 1-2, 2008.
“They were pressing me physical and psychologically to say that the weapons belonged to my father so they could arrest him and let me go,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “But I had to say they were mine.”
“I am again free by the will of the people. We must fight until the last political prisoner gets out of prison,” said Gevorgian, whose father Petros heads the HAK’s branch in Yerevan’s Ajapnyak district.
At least eight other HAK loyalists imprisoned in 2008 remain behind bars. The opposition alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian considers them political prisoners. Their immediate release has been its key demand addressed to the authorities.
Ter-Petrosian and his aides have said recently that the authorities will soon free all of the remaining “political prisoners” under what they call growing Western pressure.