A senior Russian diplomat has dismissed as “baseless” and “absurd” Paruyr Hayrikian’s claims that “imperialist” elements in Russia may have been behind last week’s armed attack on the prominent Soviet-era dissident.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in hospital on Friday, Hayrikian said he suspects “the secret service of a foreign state that persecuted me for many years.” “Not this Russian state but the previous one,” he explained in a clear reference to the Soviet KGB.
Hayrikian, who spent more than a decade in Soviet prisons for campaigning for Armenia’s independence, pointed to his recent pronouncements in support of European integration. “We have received more damage than benefits from imperialist Russia,” he said.
The presidential candidate also said in separate remarks that the unknown gunman who shot and wounded him in Yerevan on Thursday night did not look like an Armenian.
Russia’s consul general in Gyumri, Vassili Korchmar, brushed aside the allegations late on Monday. “I have familiarized myself with Hayrikian’s statement and found no facts in it,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“The KGB has long ceased to exist … and it can be said for certain that we are not meddling in Armenia’s internal affairs and don’t have a right to do that,” said Korchmar. He called Hayrikian’s claims a “pre-election ploy.”
“We know well the attitude of Armenians towards Russia and we know how Russia treats Armenians,” added the diplomat. “So I think that this won’t earn him any dividends.”
Hayrikian, meanwhile, defended his allegations at a news conference on Tuesday. He claimed that “the Soviet KGB repeatedly tried to kill me at different times.”