YEREVAN, Armenia – Armenian authorities have arrested a former top Nagorno-Karabakh military official on charges of smuggling an air defense missile into the country.
Armenia's National Security Service said Samvel Babaian, who once served as the defense minister in Nagorno-Karabakh's self-proclaimed government, was arrested Wednesday along with two other men. The agency said it had seized the Soviet-made Igla portable missile smuggled from neighboring Georgia.
Nagorno-Karabakh is officially part of Azerbaijan, but since a separatist war ended in 1994 it has been under the control of forces that claim to be local ethnic Armenians but that Azerbaijan claims include regular Armenian military.
Babaian's arrest comes before Armenia's parliamentary elections set for April 2, in which he has campaigned as a leader of an opposition bloc including several former top officials.