The shooting of a presidential candidate threw Armenia’s election into disarray Friday, with the wounded victim saying he will call for a delay of the vote. Paruir Airikian, 63, was shot and wounded by an unidentified assailant outside his home in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, on Thursday just before midnight. Airikian said from the hospital after surgery Friday that he would initiate proceedings as allowed by the constitution to delay the vote for 15 days due to his condition, but not longer. He is one of eight candidates in the Feb. 18 race in this landlocked former Soviet republic and wasn’t expected to get more than 1 percent of the vote. But postponing the election could help opponents of President Serge Sarkisian, who was expected to easily win a second five-year term. Sarkisian said after visiting Airikian in the hospital that the perpetrators of the attack ‘‘obviously had an intention to influence the normal election process.’’
Armenia — a landlocked nation of 3 million people bordering Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Turkey in the volatile Caucasus — has been known for its turbulent and often violent politics. A 1999 attack on Parliament by six gunmen killed the prime minister, the speaker and six other officials and lawmakers.
In 2006, a deputy chief of tax police was blown up in his car. Police found the man who placed explosives in the vehicle, but failed to determine who ordered the killing.
In March 2008, clashes between police and supporters of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, who lost to Sarkisian in a vote the previous month, left 10 people dead and more than 250 injured. Later that year, a deputy police chief was shot and killed in the elevator of his apartment building, a slaying that remains unsolved.