YEREVAN—Armenian presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikian said on Friday that he expects a two-week postponement of Armenia’s February 18 presidential election because of the armed attack that left him seriously wounded.
At 11:30 Thursday evening Hayrikian was shot on his street by an unknown assailant.
Hayrikian was transported to the St. Gregory the Illuminator Hospital, where officials told Hetq.am that that at 11:55 p.m. Hayrikian was admitted with a gun shot wound to his right clavicle and after undergoing surgery was recuperating in the intensive care unit.
In an interview Friday with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), Hayrikian also revealed details of the shooting that occurred outside his Yerevan home on Thursday night. He suggested that it might have been the work of unspecified “imperialist” forces in Russia.
Under the Armenian constitution, a presidential election must be postponed by two weeks if one of the candidates faces “insurmountable obstacles.” The constitution mandates the holding of a new election 40 days later if those obstacles are not eliminated during the two-week period.
“There are two options for postponing the election,” Hayrikian said. “One is [a delay of] 15 days, which I am forced to seek as I am unable [to campaign.] The other one is to organize new elections after another 40 days. I will strive to make sure that there are no extra 40 days because I too think that we are in the middle of the [electoral] process and we should complete it.”
Hayrikian said he discussed the matter with President Sarkisian when the latter visited him in hospital earlier in the day. “Those 15 days envisaged by law will automatically be enforced. Whether I like it or not, that will be the case,” he said.
Sarkisian cancelled a rally in Yerevan and decided not to air any campaign aids on Friday following an apparent attempt on the life of one of his election challengers.
He also strongly condemned the armed attack on Hayrikian, one of the three main opposition candidates, saying that it was aimed at disrupting Armenia’s upcoming presidential election.
A statement by his election campaign headquarters said the pre-election gathering was postponed indefinitely. It also announced that the presidential team withdrew campaign ads that were due to be aired by Armenian Public Television and private broadcasters on Friday.
“This despicable crime is directed not only against presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikian, not only against statesman Paruyr Hayrikian but also against our statehood,” he told journalists immediately after the visit. “It is evident that those who are behind this crime aimed to influence the normal course of the elections.”