By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Opposition presidential candidate Artur Baghdasarian met an Armenian police general on Thursday to discuss election-related murder threats which he claims to have received late last week.
Baghdasarian has so far not publicized details of the alleged threats, indicating only that they emanated from the authorities. Although Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian dismissed the claims as a “pre-election trick” earlier this week, law-enforcement authorities expressed their readiness to investigate them. The Office of the Prosecutor-General formally summoned the leader of the opposition Orinats Yerkir Party for questioning on Tuesday after a similar invitation extended by the Armenian police.
According to Baghdasarian’s campaign manager, Heghine Bisharian, the candidate received Major-General Hayk Militonian, head of the criminal investigations directorate of the Police Service, in the Orinats Yerkir headquarters in Yerevan. “Artur Baghdasarian presented some information about and details of death threats addressed to him,” she told RFE/RL without elaborating.
Bisharian said the two men also discussed “the need for a state protection of Artur Baghdasarian.”
The former parliament speaker told RFE/RL on Wednesday that another law-enforcement agency, the National Security Service (NSS), offered to provide him with bodyguards and that he accepted the offer.
Baghdasarian claimed to have been threatened with death amid growing speculation that he might drop out of the presidential race in favor of another opposition candidate, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. Baghdasarian has not ruled out such possibility, saying that he is “actively” negotiating with Ter-Petrosian.
“Negotiations continue,” he told RFE/RL as he campaigned in the central town of Aparan earlier on Thursday.
(Photolur photo: Baghdasarian supporters rally in Yerevan on Sunday.)