YEREVAN -- A former Armenian lawmaker who headed the country’s soccer governing body was released three hours after being taken into police custody on suspicion of illegally possessing and carrying firearms and ammunition.
After his release on February 4, Ruben Hayrapetyan called his detention an act of a repressive government and an attempt by the authorities to intimidate him.
“They tried to scare me, but they don’t understand one thing that people like me aren’t scared so easily like that,” Hayrapetyan told journalists at a briefing. “Even if they pour concrete on me…[the police] know that I’ll pour it on them and wipe my feet on them, that’s for sure.”
Earlier in the day his lawyer told journalists that police officers in masks detained Hayrapetyan, who was a member of parliament in the former ruling Republican party, and impounded two of his vehicles.
Authorities have several open criminal cases into alleged abuses at the Armenian Football Federation (FFA) during Hayrapetyan’s tenure as its head between 2002 and 2018.
At the end of last year, police raided his mansion as part of investigations into alleged large-scale misappropriation, forgery of documents by a group of people, abuse of authority by employees of commercial or other organizations as well as official negligence.
Hayrapetyan has been questioned as a witness, not as a suspect, in the probes, his lawyer Edgar Dzhanoyan has said.
A friend of former President Serzh Sarkisian, the high-profile businessman said he has a license to carry and possess three firearms and that police didn’t find illegal weapons on his person.
His lawyer on February 4 said police have not returned the two impounded vehicles.
In December 2018, the Republican party failed to reach the threshold for seats in the parliamentary elections. After the change in leadership in the country, Hayrapetyan has criticized the new government headed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.