Vahan Hovanessian Released

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"The political situation in Armenia is excellent–healthy–we will struggle for the formation of a normal–healthy society," said Armenian Revolutionary Federation Executive Council of Armenia member and "Trial of 31" defendant Vahan Hovanessian upon release from prison.

Hovanessian was released following a Feb. 10 decision by Justice David Avetissian with due regard to the defendant’s state of health. By the end of February–Armenia’s Supreme Court will review "Trial of 31" defendants–request for the Court to retract charges.

Following the verdict of December 12–1997–Hovanessian was sentenced to four years in prison–being charged with attempt of forcible overthrow of power–terrorist acts–plotting of serious crimes.

As for the nomination of his candidacy in the forthcoming presidential elections–Hovanessian noted that the decision lies with the party. "In the end–I am a member of the ARF Executive Council of Armenia and will have a chance to discuss that issue. The answer will be given in the coming days–maybe hours," he said.

Hovanessian has planned to hold a press conference in the near future. "My primary task is to release all others from prison," Hovanessian said.

Another ARF leader and prisoner Hrand Markarian was released Monday after three years and two months of imprisonment.

"We have lost five years–while I have lost three. I have deep anguish. I am going to appease that anguish first," said Markarian as he left prison.

He commented that the ARF’s role in Armenia must be to enforce morals and unity. Markarian expressed satisfaction with Ter-Petrosyan’s peaceful resignation–and noted that he was not concerned with the personality of the next president but his platform.

The state was unable to prove its charges against both leaders.

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