An opposition candidate contesting the current presidential election in Armenia is being treated for gunshot wounds at a Yerevan hospital after being shot at in yet unclear circumstances late on Thursday.
Prominent Soviet-era dissident Paruyr Hayrikian, who is one of the eight candidates running for president in the February 18 election, was hospitalized after an incident that occurred in Tpagrichneri Street in the Armenian capital, the Armenian police said.
One of Hayrikian’s relatives told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that two shots were fired and that the 63-year-old candidate was wounded in the shoulder.
Doctors say his wound is not life-threatening.
Police do not report other details of the incident at this point. An investigation is underway to establish the circumstances of the crime and the identity of the shooter.
Meanwhile, a number of politicians and senior government officials visited Hayrikian at the hospital overnight. Among them were Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian and Deputy Parliament Speaker Eduard Sharmazanov (both representing the ruling Republican Party of Armenia led by incumbent president Serzh Sarkisian, who is now seeking a second five-year term in office), as well as two other major opposition contenders in the current presidential race – Heritage Party leader, ex-foreign minister Raffi Hovannisian and Liberty party chairman, ex-prime minister Hrant Bagratian.
Talking to an RFE/RL Armenian Service correspondent, Prime Minister Sarkisian (no relation to President Sarkisian) strongly condemned the attack, voicing an opinion that this is first of all a blow against the government of the country.
Representatives of the Hayrikian campaign were also angered by what they described as an assassination attempt connected with Hayrikian’s participation in the presidential campaign.