Hundreds of Armenians took to the streets on Wednesday and Thursday, demanding that a Russian soldier who confessed to killing six members of an Armenian family be turned over to the Armenian authorities. He is currently in the hands of the Russian military at their base in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city.
According to the Armenian police, the soldier, Valery Permyakov, admitted that he left the base and walked two kilometres into town, where he entered a house “by accident” and killed the people he found inside. The police said he shot six people – a couple, their daughter, their son, their daughter-in-law, and their 2-year old granddaughter. Their six-month-old grandson was stabbed, but survived. Permyakov, a Siberian conscript who had only arrived at the base two months earlier, was arrested Monday after trying to cross into Turkey. Police said his motive remains unclear.
Instead of keeping him in custody, the Armenian authorities handed him over to the Russian military, which is keeping him locked up at the Gyumri base. The authorities also announced that an investigation would be conducted jointly by Russian and Armenian law enforcement. This has outraged many Gyumri residents, who see this as a breach of the nation’s sovereignty, invoking a 1997 treaty that stipulates that Russian military personnel in the South Caucasus who are suspected of committing crimes outside their bases should be dealt with by the local authorities.
Protests first broke out Wednesday in Gyumri and on Thursday spread to the nation’s capital, Yerevan.