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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…