The man who confessed to shooting and wounding Paruyr Hayrikian insisted on Wednesday that he did not intend to kill the Soviet-era dissident who ran in Armenia’s recent presidential election.
Khachatur Poghosian claimed that his two gunshots were aimed at only intimidating Hayrikian.
Hayrikian was wounded in the right shoulder by one of the bullets outside his Yerevan home on January 31.
Poghosian, 46, and another unemployed man, Samvel Harutiunian, were arrested one week after the shooting that nearly delayed the February 18 presidential election. Law-enforcement authorities say Harutiunian hired Poghosian to kill the presidential candidate. They say the murder attempt was masterminded by another candidate, Vartan Sedrakian.
Hayrikian called the shooting an attempt on his life as he made his first appearance at the ongoing trial of the three arrested men. Poghosian laughed off that claim in the courtroom. He said he served with Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s and was skilled enough to kill Hayrikian with his second gunshot.
The confessed gunman did not explain why he was paid to “intimidate” the prominent politician. He is expected to make lengthier statements during further court hearings in the case.
Hayrikian, who spent more than 10 years in Soviet prisons for campaigning for Armenia’s independence, also repeated his allegations that the shooting was the work of “Russian imperialist forces.” They were worried about his victory in the Armenian presidential ballot, he claimed.
According to Armenia’s Central Election Commission, Hayrikian garnered 1.2 percent of the vote.