A pro-government bloc and several opposition parties suspended their election campaigns in Gyumri after a son of a local mayoral candidate died from a gunshot wound on Tuesday.
Law-enforcement authorities said that Arshak Grigorian was found shot in the basement of his family house and died shortly after being rushed to a Gyumri hospital. They said he sustained a single gunshot wound to his head.
The hospital’s deputy director, Armen Khachatrian, said the young man was hospitalized in a critical condition. “All attempts to resuscitate him proved ineffective,” Khachatrian told reporters.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee said it has opened a criminal case under an article of the Criminal Code dealing with cases of suicide committed as a result of threats, intimidation or humiliation. But it stopped short of asserting that Grigorian killed himself.
The committee spokeswoman, Sona Truzian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that investigators are looking into “a number of theories” of the shooting incident as part of “large-scale investigative actions” taken by them.
“A firearm was found at the site of the incident,” said Ashot Aharonian, the Armenian police spokesman. “Circumstances are being clarified.”
The victim’s father, Vartevan Grigorian, tops the list of candidates of the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) nominated for municipal elections that will be held in Armenia’s second largest city on October 2. The new municipal assembly will then choose a city mayor.
The BHK and several other opposition parties are challenging an electoral bloc led by Gyumri’s incumbent Mayor Samvel Balasanian. The latter is backed by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia.
Balasanian’s bloc was quick to issue a statement offering its condolences to the Grigorian family and saying that it is suspending its election campaign. Most of the local opposition forces did the same.