By Armen Zakarian
A government-connected wealthy businessman who runs Yerevan’s southern Erebuni district was seriously wounded on Tuesday after an explosion rocked his limousine in what police believe was an assassination attempt.
The official, Mher Sedrakian, was rushed to a nearby hospital with a fractured hip and received urgent treatment. Doctors there said his life is not at risk. But other medical sources claimed later in the day he is in a serious condition.
Law-enforcement officials said the explosion was caused by a device apparently planted under Sedrakian’s car as he was driven to work by his driver. The black Mercedes was only partly damaged by the blast which blew out windows of a nearby gasoline station reportedly owned by Sedrakian. It is not clear whether the driver too was hurt.
The prosecutor’s office in Erebuni launched a criminal investigation into the incident. A senior investigator there, Sarkis Mnatsakanian, told RFE/RL that the authorities suspect that it was an attempt on the local boss’s life.
Sedrakian is a senior member of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK) and actively campaigned for President Robert Kocharian’s reelection in this year’s ballot. Several HHK leaders went to the Erebuni hospital to inquire about Sedrakian’s condition throughout the day. The leader of the party’s parliamentary faction, Galust Sahakian, said there might have been political motives for the bomb attack.
The blast followed a series of high-profile mafia-style killings in Yerevan and Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri. None of the murders has been solved yet, raising serious questions about the current state of law and order in Armenia and prompting calls for the resignation of senior police officials.
The authorities insist, however, that there has been no major increase in the overall crime rate which has been lower than in most other ex-Soviet republics.