An Armenian politician was arrested on suspicion of ordering the shooting of a fellow contender in last month’s presidential elections.
Vardan Sedrakyan, 46, an authority on Armenian epic poetry who garnered 0.4 percent in the vote, was detained late yesterday in the capital, Yerevan, in connection with the Jan. 31 attack on Paruyr Hayrikyan, 63, National Security Service spokesman Artsvin Baghramyan said today by phone. Sedrakyan will be held in pre-trial custody for two months while an investigation continues into the case, he said.
Sedrakyan’s lawyer, Aleksandr Sirunyan, didn’t respond to calls to his mobile and office phone numbers. His client denies the accusations, Sirunyan told the Panorama.am news website.
Sedrakyan was one of eight candidates running for the presidency on Feb. 18, the sixth time the former Soviet republic elected a leader since independence in 1991. President Serzh Sargsyan won 59 percent of the vote, beating his chief rival Raffi Hovhannisyan by more than 20 percentage points, according to official results.
Thousands of Armenians have joined the runner-up’s call to challenge the vote tally as opposition groups seek to gain traction against Sargsyan’s rule. The president is set to be inaugurated for his second term April 9.
Two men suspected of involvement in the shooting were arrested by the state security agency on Feb. 7. Both were previously hired by Sedrakyan to perform repairs on his house. After their detention, Sedrakyan told reporters he faced a probable arrest after Feb. 25, when international election observers were scheduled to leave the country.
Hayrikyan, who is still hospitalized and recovering from injuries sustained in the shooting, declined to comment on the arrest through his assistant, Vrezh Zatikyan.
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