GYUMRI, Armenia—Hundreds of angry Gyumri residents clashed with police on Thursday evening, as a peaceful demonstration at the Russian consulate, demanding the extradition of a Russian soldier who murdered a family of six in Gyurmi, turned violent.
Protesters marched to the Russian consulate to demand the handover of Valery Permyakov to Armenian authorities, insisting that the murderer be tried by an Armenian court.
Permyakov, a Russian soldier serving at Russia’s 102nd Air Base in Armenia, admitted to murdering six members of the Avetisyan family in Gyumri earlier this week, including a two-year-old, and injuring a six-month-old infant who survived despite receiving several stab wounds.
Soon after his capture at the Turkish border, authorities announced that Permyakov would be tried in Armenia, but ostensibly by a Russian military tribunal. Russian military authorities promised “the most severe punishment” for Permyakov on Thursday, according to RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Demonstrators took to the streets in Gyumri after a public funeral for the Avetisyan family organized by local authorities. Some 2,000 people gathered in front of the local prosecutor’s office, before some of the protesters marched to the Russian consulate.
Some of the demonstrators, most of them youths, then began to hurl stones at the Russian consulate and a police cordon.
Police answered by firing tear gas and stun grenades into the crowd, using their truncheons to beat back protesters trying to approach the consulate.
Several people were injured in the clashes, RFE/RL reports. Doctors at a local hospital said six protesters and two police officers were severely injured.
Dozens of protesters were detained on the spot by police. The police have not yet reported on the arrests.
The demonstrators eventually agreed to march back to the city center only after a lawmaker, Martun Grigorian, who represents a constituency of Gyumri in Armenia’s National Assembly, pleaded with the protesters to “Calm down and move on.”
Earlier in the evening, Armenia’s Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanian addressed the crowd from the heavily guarded building. “As prosecutor-general and a man, I am telling you that I will definitely appeal to Russia’s prosecutor-general with that demand,” Kostanian assured the crowd.
Russia’s Ambassador in Yerevan, Ivan Volynkin, also made a statement on Thursday. “Such atrocities have no justification. They have no nationality. The staff of the Russian Embassy shares the pain of this loss with the brotherly Armenian nation,” he said.