The trial of a Russian soldier accused of murdering the seven members of an Armenian family in Gyumri in January will start in the northwestern Armenian city on August 12, a spokesman for the 5th garrison military court of the Russian Federation confirmed on Thursday.
Sergey Sarumov said 19-year-old Valery Permyakov, who served at the Russian military base in Gyumri, will be tried by the court of Russian jurisdiction on charges of desertion with arms, stealing of firearms and ammunition and illegally carrying weapons.
The trial in connection with the murder charges is due to take place in a court of Armenian jurisdiction. No date for this trial has been set yet.
Earlier, Russia media also reported that the Russian garrison military court had extended Permyakov’s arrest for another six months.
Permyakov has been kept under arrest at the Gyumri headquarters of the Russian military base in Armenia ever since being arrested hours after a local couple, their daughter, son, daughter-in-law and two-year-old granddaughter were found dead in their home on January 12. The seventh member of the Avetisian family, a six-month-old baby boy, died of his stab injuries a week later.
Permyakov admitted murdering them during his separate interrogations by Russian and Armenian law-enforcement officials, but his motives still remain unclear.
Russian authorities made it clear immediately after the shock massacre that Permyakov would not be extradited to Armenia. This caused outrage in Armenia, with many fearing a Russian cover-up of the case. Thousands of people demonstrated in Gyumri in mid-January to demand Permyakov’s handover to the Armenian side. Some of them clashed with riot police near the local Russian consulate in Armenia’s second largest city.
The unprecedented protests forced Armenia’s Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanian to formally ask his Russian counterpart Yuri Chayka to ensure that the high-profile case is transferred to Armenian jurisdiction. Still, even after Kostanian’s letter to Chayka Russian officials insisted that the detained soldier will be tried by a Russian military court.
In late June, however, it was announced that Russia had agreed to allow Armenian law-enforcement authorities to prosecute Permyakov.
The Russian side’s decision to transfer the part of the case regarding the murder of the Armenian family to Armenian investigators was announced by President Serzh Sarkisian amid continuing street protests in Yerevan against electricity price hikes initiated by Armenia’s Russian-owned power distribution network. Armenian observers then said the move was likely to be Russia’s attempt to improve its image in Armenia amid fears for a “Western-inspired colored revolution” in the former Soviet republic.
Later in June Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General reaffirmed that Permyakov will stand trial in connection with the family murder case in an Armenian court.