Armenia arrests ex-presidential candidate over attack on rival


 Armenia arrested on March 5 a former presidential candidate over a gun attack on one of his rivals in last month’s leadership polls seen as a crucial democratic test for the ex-Soviet state, officials said.

“Yerevan’s city court has ruled to send the former presidential candidate Vardan Sedrakyan to two-month pre-trial detention,” the spokeswoman for Armenia’s prosecutor-general, Sona Tuzyan, told AFP.

The arrest has been requested by Armenia’s security service as part of the investigation into the attack against presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikyan, she said. Armenia’s incumbent President Serzh Sarkisian celebrated a crushing victory in February 18 elections that were undermined by the mysterious attempt to assassinate Hayrikyan, a Soviet-era dissident.

Hayrikyan, who heads the Union for National Self-Determination, was shot in the upper chest in central Yerevan as he was heading home on January 31.

Doubts over whether the vote would take place as scheduled were raised when Hayrikyan asked authorities to postpone the poll by two weeks as Armenian law allows if a candidate is deemed to have suffered an insurmountable obstacle. But he later withdrew his demand.

On February 8 Armenia’s security service arrested two men who pleaded guilty of the attack on the 63-year-old veteran politician.

Observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly said the election was an improvement on past polls but lacked real competition after two leading candidates pulled out late last year.

Neither Hayrikyan nor Sedrakyan — an obscure figure with no political background — managed double-digit scores.


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