The Armenian government made a decision on Thursday to allocate funds for further treatment abroad of a presidential candidate, who survived an apparent assassination attempt during the election campaign earlier this year and is now grappling with the consequences of a gunshot wound.
Paruyr Hayrikian was hit in the collar-bone in a close-range shooting attack on January 31. Doctors who have treated the 63-year-old Soviet-era dissident in a Yerevan hospital said the wound was healing well after the removal of the bullet. But they gave a less optimistic forecast for a successful treatment of Hayrikian’s nervous system which they said had also been damaged by the bullet.
Specialists in Yerevan recommended that Hayrikian seek correspondent medical treatment that is available only in foreign clinics.
An equivalent of nearly $50,000 earmarked by the government will serve the purpose of covering the medical expenses of Hayrikian, who has complained of continuing aches and difficulty in moving his right arm in recent weeks.
A Hayrikian aide told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Thursday that the veteran politician had left for the Netherlands earlier in the morning. He said Hayrikian would be treated at one of clinics in Rotterdam, but found it difficult to say how much this treatment would eventually cost him.
Earlier this month Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) arrested another former candidate, thitherto little-known Vardan Sedrakian, on suspicion of masterminding the crime against Hayrikian that was allegedly carried out by two gunmen detained within a little more than a week after the attack.
Sedrakian has strongly denied the charge, claiming to have been framed up. The self-styled scholar himself predicted his arrest one week before the February 18 presidential election. He told media then that the authorities would exploit the fact that he personally knew the two men accused of shooting and wounding Hayrikian.
Last week Hayrikian again criticized law-enforcement authorities for failing to solve the crime despite having three people under arrest.
At a press conference on March 20 the former candidate’s lawyer Levon Baghdasarian said that his client believed Sedrakian and the two other suspects had only “a tiny part in the monstrous crime.” Hayrikian, therefore, demanded that investigators from the NSS “identify the real mastermind within a reasonable period.”