By Karine Kalantarian
Armenian prosecutors announced on Monday the arrest of three unidentified men suspected of taking part in a late-night gunfight in Yerevan that left one person dead and two others seriously wounded.
The spokesman for the Prosecutor-General’s Office, Gurgen Ambarian, refused to identify the suspects and comment on rumors that the shootout stemmed from a dispute between two influential business clans.
The deadly incident occurred late on Friday in the city’s southern outskirts mainly occupied by Soviet-era idle factories. Television pictures from the scene showed a bullet-holed car and spent cartridges strewn on the ground. More than a dozen cars were reportedly parked in the deserted area when the gunfire erupted.
Police said three young men were rushed to a nearby hospital as a result. One of them, aged 30, died shortly afterward, while the two others were reported to remain in a critical condition on Monday.
A spokesman for the national Police Service, Zarzand Gabrielian, told RFE/RL that two participants of the shootout turned themselves in at the weekend. He said one of the men surrendered a Kalashnikov rifle and a pistol. It was not clear if they were among the detainees mentioned by the prosecutors’ spokesman.
Gabrielian revealed that investigators searched the apartment of the murdered man and found an arsenal of firearms and ammunition, including eight Kalashnikovs. He added that the law-enforcement authorities have already “ascertained the circle of participants of the crime” and conducted “explanatory work with their relatives.” But he declined to give further details of the case.
Yerevan, meanwhile, was rife with speculation that the high-profile shooting was the result of a bitter business dispute between wealthy government-connected individuals. The name of Gagik Tsarukian, one of Armenia’s richest men, was the most frequently mentioned one. However, an aide to Tsarukian strongly denied that the tycoon close to President Robert Kocharian or his relatives had any involvement.