An Armenian court on Thursday refused to order Russia to pay a hefty financial compensation to relatives of an Armenian family of seven murdered, apparently by a Russian soldier, in Gyumri last year.
The relatives were 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 soldier who served at a Russian military base in Gyumri, has confessed to murdering them shortly after deserting his unit earlier on that day.
The two daughters of the murdered couple and the parents of the Avetisians’ slain daughter-in-law filed a civil lawsuit against Russia during a court hearing in Permyakov’s trial held in Gyumri in late May.The presiding judge, Harutyun Movsisian, said at that hearing that he will seek a written opinion from relevant authorities in Russia and take it into consideration before ruling on the lawsuit.
However, Movsisian said nothing about the promised Russian response when he rejected the compensation demand on Thursday, prompting strong criticism from the plaintiffs’ lawyers.
“It’s obvious that something changed in the past month … It’s obvious that the Armenian court simply did not dare to rule against Russia,” one of the lawyers, Lusine Sahakian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“Today the court relieved the Russian side even of the burden of giving an answer,” said another lawyer, Yerem Sargsian. He said he and his colleagues will take the civil case to the European Court of Human Rights after exhausting all possibilities of legal action in Armenia.