Vartan Sedrakian, a maverick presidential candidate, claimed on Tuesday that the Armenian authorities plan to arrest and unjustly accuse him of masterminding a recent shooting attack on another contender, Paruyr Hayrikian.
“I am deeply convinced that the state will accuse me after the elections, after they write their desired elections results and international observers leave Armenia,” he declared.
Sedrakian argued that he personally knows the two men who were arrested last week in connection with the January 31 incident.
Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) says that both suspects, Khachatur Poghosian and Samvel Harutiunian, have confessed to the shooting. But it has so far said nothing about their motives.
Sedrakian revealed that one of the arrested men was among several laborers who remodeled his country house last year, while the other drove a taxi regularly used by them. He also said that he recently paid both men to distribute his election campaign booklets to voters.
The obscure candidate, who refers to himself as an expert on Armenian epic poems, said the authorities will exploit this fact to extract incriminating testimony against him. “They [the suspects] will sign any testimony,” he charged at a news conference. “One of them is a drug addict, while the other one will be beaten so much that he will sign anything they want.”
Sedrakian went on to suggest that neither Khachatrian nor Harutiunian shot and wounded Hayrikian. He claimed that the authorities may be using them to stop him challenging President Serzh Sarkisian. “Why do you think that I’m not a serious candidate?” he told skeptical reporters.
Few Armenians heard about Sedrakian before the start of the presidential election campaign. He has been making a name for himself with extravagant campaign promises during the race.
Sedrakian’s political connections and affiliations remain a subject of media speculation. So is the source of his apparent wealth. The non-partisan candidate has held virtually no rallies to date despite his earlier stated readiness to spend $2 million on his election campaign.