YEREVAN (A.W.)—State prosecutors confirmed today that Valery Permyakov, the Russian serviceman accused of murdering seven members of the Avetisyan family in Gyumri, will be tried by an Armenian court.
The Office of the Prosecutor-General said that the trial will proceed in Armenia after a “settlement of procedural issues,” reported RFE/RL’s Armenian Service Azatuyun.am. In a statement, the office said that while it is unclear when the trial will take place, it will certainly be carried out in Armenian courts. “We cannot speak of concrete time frames at the moment. What is clear, however, is that Armenian law-enforcers will investigate the murder case while Armenian courts will administer justice,” read a part of the statement.
Although Permyakov admitted to the murders in two separate interrogations by Russian and Armenian law-enforcement officials, his motives in the crime remain unclear. Preliminary investigations revealed that Permyakov entered the Avetisyan home by breaking the glass window in the front door before killing six members of the Avetisyan family and harming six-month-old Seryozha, who suffered stab wounds to the chest that led to his death a week later. Another report stated that Permyakov told interrogators he randomly picked the Avetisyan home in search of water.
Permyakov has been kept under custody at the Russian military base in Gyumri since being arrested after attempting to cross the Armenian-Turkish border. Many questions as to whether Permyakov would be prosecuted by a Russian military tribunal in Yerevan or by an Armenian court arose after it was confirmed that he would not be extradited. Russian soldiers on the Gyumri military base who commit crimes are subject to Armenian law-enforcement and judicial bodies, per a bilateral treaty signed in 1997 between Armenia and Russia.
Several protests and demonstrations in Armenia arose after the news of the murder spread on Jan. 12. Protesters in Gyumri and Yerevan made several demands, including having the Russian military base closed and insisting that Permyakov be turned over to Armenian law enforcement.
A reported 2,000 protesters assembled during the afternoon on Jan. 15 in Gyumri, while several hundred people clashed with police near the Russian Consulate there that same evening. Another protest was also held in front of the Russian Embassy in Yerevan that day. Vigils and commemorations for the Avetisyan family were also held in Armenia and the diaspora, as Armenians around the world took to social media to express their outrage, frustration, and sadness over the tragic events.