By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Armenian authorities reject any ethnic motives behind the murder of a Russian citizen in Armenia on Monday night and pledge full investigation to reveal the circumstances of the crime.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office of Armenia has positively responded to the request of the Russian side and is ready to allow the presence of a Russian official during the investigation. A representative of the Russian Military Prosecutor’s Office is due to arrive soon.
Gennady Yermolov, 22, a citizen of the Russian Federation who served at the Russian border troops stationed in Ashtarak in the rank of lieutenant, was attacked and murdered outside Yerevan just after midnight on August 6. His four friends escaped alive the attack by two young persons near the village of Arinj, in Armenia’s Kotayk province.
The attackers identified as Artem Andreasian and Gor Balian flagged down a passing VAZ 2101 car and ordered its five passengers, including Yermolov, out.
After subjecting them to severe beating, the men armed with hunting rifles allowed them to leave. But no sooner had their car began to move than the two opened fire, fatally wounding Yermolov, who died on the way to hospital.
The case was reported to the local police by Russian citizen and officer of the same military unit Anatoly Krylov, who was driving the car on that night. Police later arrested the two suspects and confiscated their rifles.
According to reliable sources, there was no exchange of fire during the incident.
Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gegham Gharibjanian discarded all speculations that the murder of the Russian citizen could have been committed on ethnic grounds.
“Only people with infantile mentality can think of such a thing. Such decisions could hardly be made at half past twelve at night,” he explained.
“I had a telephone conversation with Russia’s deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin whom I informed about the situation,” Gharibjanian added.
He also said the ministry will closely follow the process and will be in constant touch with Russian colleagues.
The 72-hour term of the suspects’ preliminary detention will expire on Thursday.
According to spokeswoman for the Prosecutor-General’s Office Sona Truzian, charges will be brought against Andreasian and Balian tomorrow.
RFE/RL’s attempts to find the coordinates of the victim’s side at the Russian embassy or elsewhere have failed. The lawyer for Andreasian and Balian promised to get in touch later, but didn’t call back. His mobile phone remained switched off as of this filing.
Earlier, some Armenian media alleged that the two suspects worked for oligarch Gagik Tsarukian’s security. But sources close to Tsarukian deny that information. They say the suspects were ordinary residents of Arinj.
The reported crime scene near the village of Arinj is in the vicinity of Tsarukian’s old and new houses. A dozen SUVs were seen near Tsarukian’s mansion around noon on Wednesday.
Most of the two dozen locals approached by RFE/RL refused to talk about the case. A teenager who agreed to talk on the record said the Russian officer himself was mainly to blame for what happened. “Because people in Arinj cannot harm others without a reason,” he said.
Investigators have not officially brought forward any theories regarding the case yet.