Category: Politics / February 1, 2013 10:13 AM EST
Surgeons operated on an Armenian presidential candidate on Friday (February 1) who, according to police, was wounded by unknown gunmen in the capital Yerevan on Thursday night (January 31) - an incident that could delay the ex-Soviet republic's upcoming election.
Paruyr Hayrikyan, whose life was not in danger after the shooting, is one of eight candidates running in the Feb. 18 vote but is not seen as a strong challenger to Serzh Sarksyan, who is expected to be re-elected for a second five-year term.
However, according to Armenia's constitution, the election could be postponed by two weeks if a candidate is unable to campaign or run. In the event of a candidate's death, a new election is called, to be held within 40 days.
"Somebody does not want us to hold normal elections, to have a de jure president, for the first time in modern Armenia's history," Presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisyan, and leader of Armenian opposition party Zharangutiun said from the hospital in Yerevan.
The 2008 presidential election in Armenia - a landlocked ex-Soviet republic of 3.2 million that is Russia's main ally in the South Caucasus - were marred by violent clashes between opposition protesters and police.
Armenian Shans TV reported that gunmen fired two shots, wounding Hayrikyan with a bullet to his shoulder, in the courtyard of his house in the center of the capital.
He was taken to hospital after his neighbors, who heard shots and found him, called police and an ambulance.
Hayrikyan, 63, a former dissident, is the leader of a moderate opposition party, the National Self-Determination Union.