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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arms, TNT Found in a Dead Convict's Flat

Itar-TassThe cache was discovered in an apartment at 43 Ulitsa Pererva, police said.
A large cache of weapons and explosives was found late Tuesday in a Moscow apartment registered to a dead convict, police and prosecutors said Wednesday. Investigators said they were exploring a possible connection to the Dubrovka theater siege almost three years ago.

City police officers, together with officers from the Federal Security Service, discovered about 65 kilograms of TNT in an apartment at 43 Ulitsa Pererva, in southeast Moscow near the Bratislavskaya metro station, after searching the apartment shortly after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, police spokeswoman Lidia Lagutkina said Wednesday.

Also found in the apartment were six grenade launchers, more than 100 grenades, 30 automatic and hunting rifles and several thousand rounds of ammunition, as well as materials for creating explosive devices and other munitions, Lagutkina said.

"It's the largest amount that I can ever remember being found," Lagutkina said.

City Prosecutor's Office spokesman Sergei Marchenko declined to name the dead man Wednesday, citing the ongoing investigatio, saying only that he died in prison last year. Lagutkina said the man was 32 years old, though Marchenko said he was slightly younger.

An FSB spokesman referred all questions to the prosecutor's office.

The Gazeta.ru web site, however, named the dead man as one Alexander Kancher, and said he bought the apartment in the 25-story building in 2001.

After Kancher's death, his mother, Alexandra, sold the apartment to someone who bought it sight unseen, Gazeta.ru reported.

The new owner entered apartment No. 95 for the first time at around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and after discovering the weapons called the police, the web site said.

Prosecutors are considering charges of illegal acquisition, sale, and storage of weapons and explosive devices by an organized group, which carry penalties of up to eight years in prison, Marchenko said.

Marchenko said the explosives and weapons had been packed away for long-term storage.

Sergei Sapozhkov, deputy prosecutor for Moscow's southeast district, told Channel One television Wednesday that investigators were exploring whether the cache could be related to the Dubrovka theater siege in October 2002.

"As a cache for long-term storage, it's possible that it was intended for the terrorist attack at Dubrovka," Sapozhkov said. "This version is being investigated, but there is no proof so far."

Terrorism expert Sergei Goncharov, a City Duma deputy and former FSB anti-terrorism commando, said by telephone Wednesday that a connection with the Dubrovka attack was unlikely.

"So much time has passed since then," he said. "It's almost impossible that there is a link."

A city police investigator said Wednesday that the cache was likely related to weapons trafficking, Interfax reported.

Another large weapons cache, also discovered Tuesday evening, was found in an apartment owned by a 75-year-old woman, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

In the apartment, on Veshnyakovskaya Ulitsa in southern Moscow, police found two handguns, one hunting rifle, 10 hand grenades, 300 ignition cartridges, 92 ammunition cartridges and three bayonets for Kalashnikov rifles.

Police on Wednesday were trying to establish how the weapons came to be there, the ministry said in a statement posted on its web site.