A man affiliated with a major Armenian opposition party was arrested after police claimed to have discovered “unprecedented” quantities of weapons in a Yerevan garage late on Wednesday.
The police said on Thursday that dozens of assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, hand grenades and other explosives were found in the property belonging to Arshavir Karapetian, a 47-year-old resident of the city’s northern Nor Nork district. Karapetian was taken into police custody on suspicion of illegal arms possession.
Police footage made available to the media showed Vladimir Gasparian, chief of the national police, personally visiting the property and inspecting the weapons and ammunition laid out inside it.
“It’s an unprecedented arsenal,” Ashot Karapetian (no relation to Arshavir), chief of the police’s Directorate General of Criminal Investigations, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“I can’t say just how old this cache is,” he said. “Forensic tests will give an answer to this question.”
It emerged that the arrested man is a veteran of the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan and a member of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). Vahan Hovannisian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, ruled out any political motives behind his detention.
Dashnaktsutyun spokesman Spartak Seyranian was also cautious in commenting on the case. He told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the opposition party has nothing to do with the alleged cache.
Seyranian also said that it is not yet clear whether Arshavir Karapetian indeed owned or was aware of the confiscated weapons and ammunition.