The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) denied at the weekend any political motives behind a deadly shootout between two individuals included on its list of candidates in the upcoming municipal elections in Yerevan.
The incident occurred in Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia district late on Thursday and left one of them, Karen Hakobian, dead. The other man, Artur Sedrakian, reportedly surrendered to the police and confessed to fatally wounding Hakobian shortly afterwards. The police launched an investigation into the shooting and have so far refrained from commenting on its possible causes.
According to the Yerevan daily “Haykakan Zhamanak,” Sedrakian opened fire after he and one of his friends were attacked and stabbed by a large group of men led by Hakobian. This and other newspapers linked the incident to the May 31 elections of a municipal council that will choose Yerevan’s next mayor. Sedrakian and Hakobian occupied 43rd and 101st places respectively in the HHK’s 180-member electoral slate.
The spokesman for the party led by President Serzh Sarkisian dismissed the media speculation, saying that the two HHK candidates clashes for “social or personal” reasons. “I am officially stating the incident had no political subtext and has nothing to do with activities and the electoral slate of the Republican Party,” Eduard Sharmazanov told RFE/RL. “The police will conduct an investigation and present its findings to the public,” he said.
When asked whether he thinks the shooting will damage the HHK’s already controversial reputation, Sharmazanov said: “We are concerned about all bad phenomena existing in our society.”
The HHK has long been dogged by opposition allegations that it relies on “criminal elements” and other individuals with questionable reputations to win national and local elections. The party has always denied them.