A local election candidate in the Armenian town of Masis whose son was controversially arrested this month has pulled out of the mayoral race there after failing to win the backing of his Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK).
Avetik Dallakian was one of three local BHK members who hoped to be officially nominated by the opposition-leaning party for the September 9 election. The two others were Masis’s incumbent Mayor Dmitry Nazarian and his deputy Karapet Ohanian.
The BHK’s governing body headed by Gagik Tsarukian decided late on Monday to throw its weight behind Ohanian. The two other hopefuls promptly withdrew their candidacies, making the vote a two-horse race between Ohanian and Sasha Hakobian, a former Masis mayor representing the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
Dallakian’s son Volodya was arrested on August 15 after allegedly firing gunshots from a hunting rifle in a dispute with another local man. The 28-year-old was remanded in pre-trial custody on charges of grave hooliganism carrying between four and seven years in prison.
Dallakian’s parents condemned the arrest, saying that the young man fired in the air to scare away a large group of armed men who gathered outside their house and threatened to hurt him, his wife and children. Avetik Dallakian linked the arrest with the upcoming election, saying that the local HHK team is trying to force him out of the race. The HHK denied that.
Contacted by RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Tuesday, Avetik Dallakian refused to comment on the BHK decision. He said he is “not in the mood” and is feeling unwell.
Naira Zohrabian, a senior BHK representative in Yerevan, insisted that the criminal case against Dallakian’s son was not the reason why the party leadership did not endorse him. “I don’t think that played a role,” she said, adding that Tsarukian simply picked the strongest BHK candidate.