Armenian and Russian law-enforcement bodies are continuing their joint efforts to solve last January’s deadly shooting spree in Gyumri blamed on a Russian army soldier, Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanian said on Wednesday.
Kostanian did not clarify, however, whether Valery Permyakov, the arrested soldier accused of murdering the seven members of a local Armenian family, will be handed over to the Armenian authorities.
“I can understand those people who took to the streets [of Gyumri] and rightly demanded that the case be transferred to Armenian jurisdiction,” he said in a speech in the National Assembly.
“Regarding the investigation into the case, I can only say at this point that now there is an unprecedented situation in which law-enforcement bodies in both Armenia and Russia have never been before,” he said. “We are working intensively with our Russian colleagues to try to find a solution congruent with international legal norms.”
“Rest assured that on this issue we all have not only the same feelings but also the same approaches and expectations,” Kostanian added vaguely in an annual report on Armenian prosecutors’ activities presented to lawmakers.
Kostanian wrote to Russia’s Prosecutor-General Yuri Chayka shortly after being confronted by thousands of furious protesters in Gyumri demanding that Permyakov, who is kept at the local Russian army headquarters, be prosecuted and tried by relevant Armenian bodies. It is still not clear whether Chayka has replied to the letter requesting the suspect’s extradition.
The Armenian press claimed late last month that Kostanian has paid a confidential visit to Moscow to discuss the matter with his Russian counterpart. Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General declined to refute or confirm those reports.
Various Russian officials said earlier that Permyakov will be tried in Armenia but by a Russian military court. They argued that Russia’s constitution forbids the extradition of Russian nationals to foreign states.
Many in Armenia point to a 1997 Russian-Armenian treaty regulating Russian military presence in the country. The treaty stipulates that Russian military personnel charged with crimes committed outside their installations shall be prosecuted by Armenian authorities.