Russian Soldier to Be Tried in Armenia, but by Russian Court

Mourners gathered at Gyumri’s St. Nshan Church for 6-month-old Seryozha Avetisyan’s memorial service. Jan. 20, 2015. (Photo: Photolur)


YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Russia says a soldier accused of killing seven members of a single family in Armenia will be tried on Armenian soil, but media reports say the trial will be conducted by a Russian military court, RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) reports.

The Jan. 20 announcement is unlikely to appease protesters who have demanded the suspect in an attack that stunned the country be transferred to Armenian custody and tried by Armenian courts.

Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said the investigation and criminal proceedings against suspect Valery Permyakov “will be held exclusively on Armenian soil.”

However, he said that the proceedings will be conducted in accordance with international law, Russian legislation, and agreements between Russia and Armenia governing Russia’s military base in the city of Gyumri, where Permyakov was stationed and is now being held.

Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the Kavkaz-uzel.ru website, citing Armenian government sources, said the trial would be conducted by a Russian military court in Armenia.

Authorities say Permyakov has confessed to the killings, which sparked angry protests last week in Yerevan and Gyumri by Armenians demanding he be transferred to Armenian custody, Azatutyun.am reports.

Russian authorities have said that according to the Russian Constitution, Russian citizens suspected of committing crimes in other countries cannot be extradited to such countries — a policy President Vladimir Putin has described in other circumstances by saying that Russia does not “give up its own.”

The Investigative Committee’s announcement coincided with a candle-lighting ceremony commemorating Seryozha Avetisian, a 6-month-old boy who was stabbed in the attack and died in a Yerevan hospital on Jan. 19.

He had been the sole survivor of the attack: His parents, 2-year-old sister, aunt, and grandparents were found dead in their home in Gyumri on Jan. 12.

Both Russian and Armenian officials have made soothing statements in an effort to ensure it does not threaten their ties or lead to large-scale street protests in Armenia.

In a telephone conversation with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian on Jan. 18, Putin expressed his condolences to the Avetisians’ relatives and the Armenian nation and promised a swift investigation and appropriate punishment for the massacre.

The killings are testing ties between Russia and Armenia, which has just joined the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union and hosts the base that is Moscow’s biggest foothold in the strategic South Caucasus.

For Armenia, which is flanked by longtime foes Azerbaijan and Turkey, regional giant Russia is a potential protector and a trade partner. But government opponents and other Armenians chafe at Moscow’s powerful influence over the small, poor, landlocked country.

After the attack, for which no possible motive has been publicly revealed, Permyakov was detained by a Russian border-guard unit at the Armenian-Turkish border, according to Azatutyun.am.

Russian media reports quoted a Russian Armed Forces General Staff official on Jan. 20 as saying that conscripts — like Permyakov — will no longer be stationed at the Gyumri base as of 2016.

Instead, only military personnel serving on contractual basis will be stationed there, according to the report, which said the change had been planned before the killings in Gyumri.

Russia, Armenia to Jointly Investigate
An investigation against Permyakov, and an ensuing trial, will be conducted in Armenia, according to the Russian Investigative Committee, Public Radio of Armenia (ArmRadio.am) reports.

“The criminal inquiry and all procedural measures connected with it will abide by the norms of international law, the January 22, 1993 Convention on Legal Aid and Legal Relations in Civil, Family and Criminal Cases, the March 16, 1995 Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia concerning the presence of a Russian military base in the territory of Armenia, as well as the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia on judicial and mutual legal assistance in issues linked with the presence of the Russian military base in the territory of Republic of Armenia, dated August 29, 1997,” the Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

“Today, the heads of the two countries’ Investigative Committees also met with President of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian and informed him of the course of this joint inquiry. They assured him that the person guilty of this cruel murder would be punished with the utmost vigor of the law,” Markin said.

The municipality of Gyumri announced its support for an investigation against Permyakov by Armenian authorities, calling on Armenian Prosecutor General Gevorg Kostanyan to request that the case be transferred to Armenian law-enforcement bodies, but stopping short of demanding that Permyakov be tried by Armenian courts, according to Armenia Now.

The Gyumri City Hall. (Photo: Vae Isakhanian)

In a statement on Jan. 20, the Gyumri municipality said: “Gyumri residents and the entire Armenian nation are shaken by the horrible tragedy that happened to the Avetisyan family on January 12, 2015. The tragedy caused legitimate indignation of city residents. The tension among the population has not declined. This is fraught with grave consequences, which we have witnessed in recent days. We are sure steps are needed to reduce tension.”

Public Funeral to Be Held for Infant
A public funeral service for six-month-old Seryozh Avetisyan will be held in Gyumri on Wednesday, ArmRadio reports. A memorial service for the infant was held on Tuesday at Gyumri’s St. Nshan Church.

The infant died in hospital on Sunday after having initially survived the attack. He was the only member of the family who was found alive at the scene, despite having received multiple stab wounds. The infant was transferred to a Yerevan hospital where he received brain surgery. Despite what doctors called a successful surgery, the baby did not survive.

Authorities are preparing for more protests in Gyumri to follow the infant’s funeral.

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12 Comments

  1. Robert Davidian said:

    Putin must be told the Russian constitution does not apply in Armenia. But, article 4 of the joint agreement dictates the criminal must be tried in an Armenian court. Also, Putin must be reminded that there is no USSR anymore. Armenia has laws and enforces and abides by them.

  2. zarkim said:

    Mr Putin has promised full employment for Russians even if they have mental problems.
    Russians should keep their mentally unstable citizens in their own country.
    .
    What is this sick person (Valery Permyakov) doing in Armenia?
    .
    Mr Putin must punish Valery Permyakov SEVERELY and COMPENSATE Armenia (100,s of Millions $..) and pay the same to the effected family for all costs and future rehabilitation for the pain and sufferings.
    .
    This sick soldier should be QUESTIONED by Armenians to prepare a comprehensive report about the incident and find out how many people were involved?
    .
    Who encouraged (Accompanied) this sick dog? Who else WAS INVOLVED? What took place?
    .
    These questions MUST BE ANSWERED.
    .
    Mr Putin’s soldiers are a danger to Armenia unless they are answerable to the ARMENIAN POLICE if they misbehave.
    .
    Armenia should make sure that there are NO MORE SICK RUSSIANS in ARMENIA.
    .
    Russian soldiers should not wonder the streets if ARMED. A special Armenian army group should monitor their movements.
    .
    An Armenian court should question this soldier. We cannot trust the Russians to do it properly.

  3. Robert Davidian said:

    Sargsyan must tell Putin the Russian constitution does not apply in Armenia. And, article 4 of their joint agreement dictates the criminal must be tried in an Armenian court. Also, Putin must be reminded that there is no USSR anymore. Armenia has its own laws and enforces them. (It SHOULD, anyway. Otherwise, the Armenian “president” must be impeached!)

  4. Hratch said:

    Who are they fooling? they might as well move the venue to Moscow. This is a total mockery of Armenian justince and independence. Mother Russia is treating us as an Oblast incapable of defending the dignity and rights of its citizens. Welcome to the new CCCP regional world order.This will go down in history as one of our greatest travesty.

    God protect Armenia from all Russophiles both foreign and domestic !

  5. Ara said:

    This is a shame for armenians all over the world! This case shows clearly that Armenia is not a free and sovereign country.

  6. Gurgen said:

    If this lunatic is tried and punished in Armenia, he won’t be alive in 3 months. This is NOT a good thing. If he was acting on the orders of Azeri or Turkish secret services, then this must be investigated and all contacts exposed. This type of intelligence investigation is far more important to a nation than just killing the guilty if we are serious about preventing such. Everyone is too emotional and not thinking clearly. This man won’t have much of a life regardless of where he is imprisoned but at least he should be kept alive until all information is extracted from him.

  7. Harutik said:

    Geopolitics trumps emotions. Armenians cannot afford to politicize this tragedy.

    Russia’s 102nd base is the most important single military factor in Armenia. The base acts as a tripwire against an invasion from Turkey. By securing Armenia’s western borders, the base also allows the Armenian military to concentrate its limited resources against a more manageable enemy, Azerbaijan. I would go as far as saying Armenia exists today because of the 102nd base.

    Politicizing this horrible tragedy is not in Armenia’s national interests for it serves to drive a wedge between Moscow and Yerevan. Driving a wedge between Moscow and Yerevan is something Turks, Azeris, Georgians, Islamists and Western oil interests have long sought. We must not allow it to happen. Russians are also shocked at what has taken place in their military. Yes, we want answers from Moscow but Western mercenaries in Armenia are not helping the situation by burning Russian flags and demanding that the 102nd base gets shut down.

    Yes, what happened was a sudden and unexpected blow to Russian-Armenian relations but we must not allow the tragedy to be exploited by Western/Turkish assets in Armenian society.

    We all know that generally speaking Armenians are overly emotional, politically illiterate and very family oriented. You want to seriously piss-off an Armenian and make him do irrational, self-destructive acts, mess with his family. You want to see an Armenian go insane and turn his environment upside-down, mess with his family. Whoever or whatever was behind this massacre knew our people’s weaknesses well. The assault was thus directed against the Armenian family. Now, all of Washington’s shameless lemmings in Armenia are enthusiastically exploiting this horrible tragedy toward self-serving political ends. Now, Turks and Azeris will be impatiently watching from the sidelines to see how self-destructive Armenians will get. Once more, I blame Yerevan’s “complimentary politics” for the volatility in Armenia because. Yerevan’s appeasement toward Western powers has allowed Armenia to become saturated by Western-led mercenaries during the past twenty years.

    Consequently, predictably and alarmingly, we are now seeing a growing trend of Russophobia amongst the new generation of Armenians. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to realize that if Russophobia ever goes mainstream inside Armenian society, Armenia will cease to exist as a nation-state in the south Caucasus. And every single one of the anti-Russian protesters we have been seeing recently would be the first to flee to Russia as soon as the first Turkish army division crossed the Arax River…

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