Armenian media late on Wednesday evening (22 March) reported that former Karabakh defense minister Samvel Babayan had been arrested. The reports say that the National Security Service of Armenia confirmed that Babayan and another two persons "were detained on suspicion of smuggling Igla air defense system to Armenia".
Apparently the parts that were smuggled are considered as ammunition. The sources could not explain the reasons why the components were imported or who funded the operation.
Samuel Babayan is considered a charismatic but controversial figure amongst Armenians. Some see him as a war hero from the conflict with Azerbaijan in the 1990s. He later served as Defence Minister of the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. After he was dismissed he was imprisoned for trying to assasinate the then President of the territory Arkady Ghoukasian.
Babayan lived in Moscow for most of the last years but returned to Karabakh last June for unclear reasons. On that occasion commonsapce.eu political editor wrote "Babayan's return to Nagorno-Karabakh is a direct challenge not only to the current leadership in the self-declared republic, but also to the Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan, and there is speculation that Babayan may be joining political forces that aim to unseat Sargsyan." You can read the commentary by commonspace.eu political editor on the return of Samuel Babayan to Nagorno-Karabakh published in June 2016 here
source: commonspace.eu with agencies
photo: Samuel Babayan (archive picture)
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