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Russian Leaders Condemn Gyumri Shootings


Russia -- (L-R) Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Nikolai Patrushev, chairman of the Security Council, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attend a meeting in Moscow, December 22, 2014

Russia -- (L-R) Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Nikolai Patrushev, chairman of the Security Council, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attend a meeting in Moscow, December 22, 2014

Russia’s ministers of defense and foreign affairs telephoned their Armenian counterparts on Monday to condemn the shock killing of six people in Gyumri which was allegedly committed by a Russian soldier serving in Armenia.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu was quoted by his press office as telling Armenia’s Seyran Ohanian that “nothing can justify such violence against innocent people.” He also offered his condolences to the relatives of the victims.

In a statement, the office effectively echoed Armenian law-enforcement authorities’ claims that the six members of an Armenian family were apparently shot dead by the fugitive soldier, identified as Valery Permyakov. It confirmed that Permyakov fled his unit stationed in Gyumri with an assault rifle early in the morning, shortly before the Avetisian family was found dead.

The statement added that a special Russian Defense Ministry commission headed by Shoygu’s first deputy, Arkady Bakhin, has flown to Gyumri to “investigate the causes of the tragedy.” “As a result of the commission’s investigation, all individuals responsible for the tragedy will be strictly held accountable,” it said.

It was not immediately clear whether Moscow will demand that Permyakov, who remained on the run as of late Monday, be prosecuted in Russia in accordance with bilateral treaties regulating Russian military presence in Armenia.

Armenia’s First Deputy Minister Davit Tonoyan discussed the shocks killings in a phone call with Bakhin and a face-to-face meeting with the Russian military attaché in Yerevan, Andrey Beryozkin.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also expressed his condolences when he phoned his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian in connection with the shooting spree. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov assured Nalbandian that Moscow will help the Armenian authorities “quickly solve the crime.”

One of Nalbandian’s deputies, Shavarsh Kocharian, heard similar assurances from the Russian ambassador to Armenia, Ivan Volynkin, at a meeting in Yerevan.

“Like the Armenian people, we are shocked by the appalling crime against the peaceful family of residents of Gyumri,” read a statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

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