A Russian soldier serving at Russia’s military base in Armenia was arrested on Monday on suspicion of killing a fellow serviceman.
Ivan Novikov, a 19-year-old conscript, was found dead with several stab wounds in the northwestern Armenian city of Gyumri, which hosts the bulk of about 5,000 Russian troops stationed in the country. Novikov’s body lay more than one kilometer from the nearest Russian military facility.
Armenian law-enforcement officials and Russian military investigators cordoned off the area to inspect and conduct forensic tests there.
Colonel Aleksei Polyukhovich, a deputy commander of the Russian base, told reporters at the scene that another Russian soldier has been detained in connection with the killing. “He is now giving testimony,” Polyukhovich said, refusing to reveal his identity.
Later in the day, Russian media identified the suspect as Ivan Boskhomdzhiev. The Interfax news agency quoted a Russian military spokesman as saying that he has already confessed to the murder.
According to other Russian media reports, Boskhomdzhiev, who is a contract soldier, attributed the recently drafted conscript’s killing to “personal antipathy.” The two men are said to have repeatedly and bitterly argued in recent weeks.
The criminal investigation will be conducted by the Russian side. Accordingly, Boskhomdzhiev will be tried by a Russian military court.
The killing was committed five months after another Russian soldier serving in Gyumri, Valery Permyakov, murdered the seven members of a local Armenian family for still unclear reasons. Permyakov has since been kept at a detention center of the Russian base’s Gyumri headquarters. He too is expected to appear before a Russian court later this year.
The family massacre sparked outrage in Armenia, with thousands of Gyumri residents taking to the streets in January to demand Permyakov’s handover to Armenian law-enforcement authorities. It also led to the sacking of Colonel Andrey Ruzinsky, the commander of the Russian base. His replacement, Major-General Vladimir Ustinov, took over the base in April.