Presidential Candidate's Failed Assassination Attempt: Questions Remain

Hayrikian's Facebook page posted photos of the presidential candidate in the hospital after being shot at. | Photo from Hayrikian's Facebook page
Hayrikian’s Facebook page posted photos of the presidential candidate in the hospital after being shot at. | Photo from Hayrikian’s Facebook page

Ex-Soviet Dissident Paruyr Hayrikian is a great leader, one of the main founders  of the democratic movement in the Soviet Union, an important voice of Armenia’s self-determination and independence in the last days of the Soviet Union and the institution of the newly independent Armenia. However, his political value in today’s Armenia is all but historical. So when I heard the news about assassination attempt against Hayrikian, my first reaction was like: “Why on earth!”

The assaulted politician is one of eight candidates in the February 18 presidential vote, which the incumbent, Serge Sarkissian, is expected to win by a large margin.  Hayrikian is considered a long-shot candidate. As an ex-dissident, he has a loud name and is a likable person, but he neither has influence, nor money to gain anything more than 1% of the vote.

Hayrikian was shot outside his house in Yerevan on Thursday, just before midnight. Two shots were fired, one missed. The other one hit the upper right side of his chest. He got lucky, was operated today, feels fine.

Back to the questions about the motives behind the attack. The first thing that springs to mind, is blackmail. Whoever has that gun, now controls the fate of the elections. Slip it carefully into Serzh Sarkissian’s, Raffi Hovhanissian’s or Hrant Bagratian’s pocket (don’t take it literally though) and with the police promising a “meticulous” investigation, they’re gone from this race.

Triggering a country-wide witch-hunt, destabilizing the situation, casting a shadow over what Serzh Sarkissian has promised to be the best-ever elections, are all considerations. From this perspective, the ruling Republican party is the one force that suffered the most damage.

Another option is that someone’s trying to delay the elections, as according to Article 52 of the Armenian constitution “in case of insurmountable obstacles” for a candidate to continue the race, the elections may be postponed for a two-week period.

There are less likely options of personal revenge against Hayrikian and even the PR move to spin off his campaign… who knows. I don’t like or trust politicians and Hayrikian is known for his “assassination attempt” stories. In a recent interview he claimed to have survived at least 3 attacks in the 90’s…

PS: What a shame…

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. Now we know why SS’s motto is “Towards Secure Armenia” — to remove any doubts that his regime is against anything like this or March 1, and that things are insecure in the country for which he should not be blamed because that’s not what he wants.
    … still unable to come out of the banana republic mentality.

    1. not to mention the candidates like RFK

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  3. Any leads in the investigation or is this going to be another unsolved crime?

  4. […] Sunday, eight days after being wounded in what vaguely looks like an assassination attempt, Hayrikian applied to the Armenian Constitutional Court with a request to delay the election day by […]

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