Russian Lawmakers Visit Gyumri Following Massacre

Russian lawmakers lay flowers on the graves of the Avetisyan family in Gyumri.


GYUMRI, Armenia (RFE/RL)—A Russian parliamentary delegation on Friday visited Gyumri and laid flowers on the fresh graves of the seven members of a local Armenian family who died in a killing spree blamed on a Russian soldier.

The three pro-Kremlin members of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, paid their respects to the Avetisian family one week after unprecedented anti-Russian protests attended by scores of local residents. Moscow has since been trying to minimize political fallout from the January 12 massacre that has cast a shadow over its close ties with Yerevan.

The visiting parliamentarians echoed Russian law-enforcement officials’ pledges to solve the brutal crime jointly with their Armenian colleagues. “This is a tragedy not only for the Armenian people but also for the Russian people,” Oleg Lebedev, a senior lawmaker heading the Duma delegation, told reporters at the Gyumri cemetery.

“Unfortunately, this monstrous crime could become the kind of a stumbling block [in Russian-Armenian relations] which you just mentioned. But I am sure that this will not happen,” he said.

Lebedev announced that the Russian and Armenian parliaments have agreed to set up a joint working group that will monitor ongoing investigations into the killings conducted and supposedly coordinated by law-enforcers from the two countries. “We will be as open and transparent as possible,” he said. “We will be meeting and briefing you on the results of the investigation.”

Lebedev was also asked about Gyumri citizens’ demands for Valery Permyakov, the murder suspect kept in Russian military custody, to be handed over to Armenian law-enforcement authorities or at least be tried in an Armenian court. “An investigation is underway and nobody has the right to interfere in it,” he said. “This is a legal requirement in both Armenia and Russia. The investigation will detect facts and certain decisions will be made as a result.”

Lebedev, who was accompanied by senior Armenian parliament deputies, at the same time reaffirmed Russian assurances that Permyakov will stand trial in Armenia, RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) reported.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated earlier this week that the 18-year-old conscript will appear before a Russian military tribunal located in Yerevan. Organizers of the Gyumri protests have rejected this option, insisting that the high-profile case be heard by an Armenian court.

Lebedev further said that he and his colleagues will petition the Russian government and military to avoid sending conscripts to Russian military bases abroad from now on. He said they believe that only contract soldiers should serve there after undergoing special training.

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4 Comments

  1. Harutik said:

    I am glad to see that Russian officials are being proactive in this matter. For its part, Yerevan must do its best not to allow Pro-Western mercenaries 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…

    • GB said:

      …just like the battle of Sardarabad! You think diaspora Armenians will let that happen???

  2. GB said:

    Russian lawmakers should start screening Putin’s head before he send more criminals into Russia’s air-base
    in Gyumri!

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