Artur Sakunts, Armenia’s leading human rights activist who represented the interests of some of the relatives of a slain Armenian family during the high-profile trial of a Russian soldier convicted of the murders, implies the speculation about whether or not Valery Permyakov will be handed over to Russia is a moot point, since he has controversially been kept in Russian custody all the while.
“This looks a little absurd to me, because this man should first be under Armenia’s jurisdiction in order to consider whether to hand him over or not,” said Sakunts, referring to the fact that despite being tried by an Armenian court and under Armenian laws, Permyakov has remained in Russian custody inside Russia’s military base in Gyumri all the while and now continues to be under Russian guard.
In Sakunts’ words, no one can practically prevent Russia from transferring the convict to a Russian prison now.
“Had he been kept in Armenian custody from the beginning, we could now discuss whether to hand him over or not,” added the human rights activist, who has repeatedly criticized the Armenian authorities for not insisting on Permyakov’s transfer to an Armenian remand prison.
The nine-month-long Armenian trial of Permyakov held on the premises of the Russian military base in Gyumri ended on Tuesday. The 19-year-old Russian Army private was found guilty of murdering in January 2015 a seven-member Armenian family, including a two-year-old girl and a six-month-old boy, a robbery attack and an attempt to illegally cross the Armenian-Turkish border and sentenced to life in prison.
Neither the court nor the prosecutor, however, specified where Permyakov will serve his sentence, something that the counsel for the defense acknowledged should have been done according to the prescribed manner of the proceedings.
According to some Armenian media reports, Permyakov is likely to serve his sentence in a Russian prison rather than in an Armenian facility. Some newspapers also speculate that he may be “exchanged” for an Armenian citizen, Hrachya Harutiunian, who committed manslaughter in Russia in 2013, killing 18 people in a major road accident and is now serving a six-and-¾-year term in a Russian prison.
Officials in Yerevan and Moscow have not yet commented on the issue.
In August 2015, Permyakov was also tried by a Russian military tribunal that convicted him of desertion, theft of weapons and illegally carrying weapons. He was then sentenced to 10 years in maximum-security prison.