Relatives of an Armenian family of seven murdered in Gyumri last year demanded on Friday a hefty financial compensation from Russia during the ongoing trial of a Russian soldier charged in the massacre.
They are seeking 450,000 euros ($500,000) in damages for what their lawyers called the Russian state’s responsibility for the January 2015 killings that shocked many in Armenia and triggered angry protests in the country’s second largest city.
A middle-aged couple, their daughter, son, daughter-in-law and 2-year-old granddaughter were found shot dead in their Gyumri home in the morning. The Avetisian family’s seventh member, a 6-month-old baby boy, died of his stab wounds a week later.
Valery Permyakov, a Russian soldier who served at a Russian military base in Gyumri, has admitted murdering them shortly after deserting his unit earlier on that day. He told Russian and Armenian investigators last year that he had grown homesick and wanted to reunite with his family living in a small town in Siberia.
A Russian military court in Gyumri sentenced Permyakov to 10 years in prison for desertion in August 2015. His main, Armenian trial on murder charges began shortly afterwards. If found guilty, the 20-year-old will face a life in prison.
The two daughters of the murdered couple and the parents of the Avetisians’ slain daughter-in-law filed a civil lawsuit against Russia at the latest court hearing in Permyakov’s trial held at an improvised courtroom inside the Russian military headquarters in Gyumri. Their lawyers said that Russian military authorities bear responsibility for the killings because they had decided to send Permyakov to Armenia despite his history of mental disorders and repeated desertions from his previous army unit stationed in Siberia.
“We believe that the Russian Federation should exercise more caution in its actions and send only those soldiers to Armenia who went through a real selection process,” one of the lawyers told the Armenian court. “That is why we decided to file this lawsuit.”
“Our clients have not only financial expectations,” said Sahakian. “They also want the Russian Federation to know that it will bear financial responsibility if more such things happen in the future.”
The presiding judge, Harutyun Movsisian, accepted the lawsuit, meaning that he will order or reject the compensation sought by the four relatives in his verdict on the high-profile case. Movsisian made clear that he will seek a written opinion from relevant authorities in Russia and take it into consideration before the ruling.