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Wounded Presidential Candidate Seeks Armenian Election Delay


Presidential candidate Paruyr Hairikian speaks as he sits on his bed in a hospital room in Yerevan on February 5, less than a week after being shot in the right shoulder.
A candidate running in this month's Armenian presidential election who was the victim of an apparent assassination attempt has asked the country's Constitutional Court to postpone the vote for two weeks.

The court has four days to issue a ruling on the application by the 63-year-old Paruyr Hairikian, who was left injured when he was shot in the shoulder outside his home in the capital on January 31.

Hairikian had previously said he would not seek a postponement of the February 18 vote, but he warned several days ago that he might reconsider that position.

He appeared at the court in person on February 10 to apply for the delay, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported.

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The Armenian Constitution prescribes a two-week delay in the vote if any candidate is unable to participate due to circumstances beyond his or her control. If that obstacle cannot be resolved, the constitution allows for a further 40-day postponement.

Two suspects have been arrested over the attack. The National Security Service (NSS) said the men, 46-year-old Khachatur Poghasian and 40-year-old Samvel Harutiunian, confessed to "the murder attempt" following their arrest on February 7.

Investigators have appeared unclear about the motive for the shooting.

Hairikian heads the Union of National Self-Determination Party and was not considered a strong challenger to incumbent President Serzh Sarkisian.

The party's website issued a statement saying that Hairikian's recovery had slowed in recent days and that he had been forced to postpone several planned meetings and interviews.

He had suggested last week that his health condition meant "we are no longer able to campaign" and that "slanderous" attacks from opponents could persuade him to seek the election delay.

Hairikian said shortly after the shooting that he believed a secret service of a "former state" which had pursued him "for many years" was behind the attack.

Hairikian spent more than a decade in Soviet prison camps and a further three years in internal exile for his membership of a clandestine political organization and for authoring "samizdat," or underground dissident publications.

With additional reporting by Interfax,, and "Ekho moskvy"