YEREVAN, February 1 (RIA Novosti) – Armenian presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikyan is recovering from surgery after he was shot in the shoulder in an apparent assassination attempt on Thursday, the country’s media said on Friday.
The 63-year-old leader of the Union for National Self-Determination was attacked near his house in the capital Yerevan late on Thursday.
Shortly after the attack, Hayrikyan was taken to hospital where he underwent surgery to remove a bullet from his shoulder early on Friday.
“The surgery has been successful. Hayrikyan is still under anesthesia,” Novosti-Armenia news agency said, adding he is in a stable condition according to doctors.
The motive for the attack is yet unknown. An investigation is underway.
Hayrikyan is one of eight candidates standing in Armenia’s February 18 presidential election, which analysts predict is likely to return incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan for a second term.
Vladimir Zakharov, who heads the Black Sea and Caspian Region Institute for Political Research, said the attack on Hayrikyan was a “political trick” by the weak Armenian opposition as incumbent President Sargsyan has no actual contenders.
“The assassination attempt on candidate Paruyr Hayrikyan could be used as an excuse to delay the presidential vote,” Zakharov was quoted by panarmenian.net as saying.
Armenian parliament speaker Ovik Abramian, who described the attack as a blow to the country’s "freedom and independence," has not denied the elections might be rescheduled.
According to Armenia’s constitution, elections can be delayed for two weeks if a candidate faces "circumstances of insuperable force."
Such a delay would have to be initially requested by the candidate himself, and then it is up to the country’s Constitutional Court to decide on the issue, said David Arutunyan, who chairs Armenia’s parliamentary commission on legal issues.
Hayrikyan’s campaign headquarters said it will make an official statement on Saturday on his plans.