Brother Of Former Armenian Leader Arrested After Search Finds Weapons Cache

The brother of Armenia's former prime minister Hovik Abrahamian was arrested on suspicion of illegal arms procurement and possession, Armenia's security service said on August 8.

Henrik Abrahamian was a member of parliament several times in the past and belongs to a wealthy and influential family, which owns several businesses in the Caucasus country of 3.2 million people.

The arrest is one in a series in recent months under Armenia's new prime minister, Nikol Pashinian, a former opposition leader who was elected by parliament in May after weeks of mass protests against corruption and cronyism in the government.

The National Security Service said in a statement that it found weapons on the property of a former mechanical plant believed to have belonged to Hovik Abrahamian, who served as prime minister from 2014 to 2016.

Among the weapons found were three hand-held machine guns, 74 guns, two sniper rifles, and bullets and ammunition for the weapons, the service said.

Also arrested on suspicion of illegal arms procurement and possession was a man connected with the mechanical plant, Ambik Gevorgian, it said.

The latest arrests come a month after an Armenian court ordered the detention of former President Robert Kocharian, who served from 1998 to 2008, on charges of usurping power and an attempt to overthrow the constitutional order during events following the 2008 elections, when his ally Serzh Sarksian became president.

Kocharian has dismissed the charges as politically motivated.

A month earlier the Armenian parliament stripped General Manvel Grigorian from the former ruling party of immunity.

The parliament supported a prosecutor's motion to open criminal proceedings against him after the National Security Service confiscated weapons and ammunition from his home.

Based on reporting by Reuters and RFE/RL's Armenian Service