With less than ten days to go before Armenia’s February 18 presidential vote, Armenians still do not know for sure when, exactly, the election will take place. The reason is presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikian, the victim of a January 31 shooting attack. By law, Hayrikian can ask the Constitutional Court to postpone the vote for two weeks to give him time to recover his health; a request he had previously indicated he would make. But on Tuesday, he decided against such a move. Then, late on Thursday, he changed his mind again. At last word, Hayrikian intended to file the request on February 8, but a spokesperson for the Constitutional Court told EurasiaNet.org late in the day that it still had not heard from him. The Court will remain open over the weekend in case Hayrikian stands by his latest decision and requests a delay in the elections.
Hayrikian’s earlier surprise decision to not mind his damaged collarbone, but carry on with his campaign had sparked speculation that he had made a deal with the government, but the candidate angrily dismissed such claims.
More surprises, though, came today, when the National Security Service unexpectedly reported that it had arrested two 40-something suspects, Khachatur Pogosian and Samvel Arutiunian, in the shooting and that both had “confessed to the crime.” The suspects are said to be “illegally residing in Armenia,” and allegedly have a criminal record for drug dealing. Their supposed motivation for the attack has not been released.
Yet, even here, suspicions are not laid to rest. The fact that Hayrikian had claimed that his assailants had Slavic, rather than Armenian, features added further to misgivings about the government’s handling of the case.