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Former Armenian general arrested after weapons stash discovered in his house

ARMENIAN MPs stripped a former army general of immunity from prosecution after the discovery of an arsenal of weapons meant for soldiers in his houses following a series of raids.

Lawmakers voted by 81 to 3 in Armenia’s parliament yesterday evening after the release of video footage showing a vast quantity of weapons, food and other supplies in the homes of Republican Party member Manvel Grigoryan.

Protests erupted in the city of Edgmiazin amid fears of a possible armed insurrection by right-wing forces attempting to oust Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinian, who came to power last month after protests forced the resignation of Serzh Sargsyan.

Mr Grigoryan was arrested on June 16 following the raids with Republican Party parliamentary leader Vahram Baghdasaryan saying the release of the National Security Service video “totally changed the situation.”

Letters from children to soldiers were found in the former general’s properties with security officials also discovering stockpiles of food meant for those serving on the front line in Armenia’s dispute with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The National Security Service said Mr Grigoryan used canned food to feed tigers, bears and other animals at a private zoo inside one of his compounds.

Mr Grigoryan’s motives for stockpiling the weapons have been questioned amid fears the Republican Party may attempt to wrest back control of Armenia by force.

Sources explained to the Star that the former general heads up a “secretive influential paramilitary group” known as Yerkrapah — defenders of the land.

Established in 1994, the group claims to be an army veterans’ association and is believed to have 30,000 members, making it one of the most powerful organisations in Armenia.

He claimed: “The political struggle continues in Armenia, as Mr Pashinian enjoys the full support of the country and has control of the government but not the judiciary and the parliament.”

Ahead yesterday’s vote, prosecutor-general Artur Davtyan told lawmakers there was sufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges against Mr Grigoryan, who served as the deputy defence minister from 2000-2008.

Earlier this week, Azerbaijan accused Mr Grigoryan of involvement in the 1992 Khojaly Massacre in which they say 613 civilians were killed fleeing Armenian forces.

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