The Gyumri Murder Got Politicized
The fact that Valery Permyakov - a conscript soldier from the Russian 102nd Military Base who is accused of a mass murder in Gyumri – is put into the custody under the Russian jurisdiction is a decision made under political pressure.

Even if the suspect was arrested by Russian officers, rights defenders in Armenia believe, Armenian law enforcement agencies must be held responsible as they failed to timely and quickly act to find the suspect.

“Though the crime was committed outside the military base, he ultimately got to the base. How did the soldier get to the base if he did not return there after the murder? Why didn’t our officers manage to act quickly and seize him? It is quite possible that the placement of the suspect into the Russian custody is a political decision made under the Big brother’s pressure,” said Avetik Ishkhanyan of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia. The visit of the special delegation of the Russian Defense Ministry to Gyumri suggests there is pressure on Armenian authorities.

The panelists at the Media Center initiated panel discussion included: Avetik Ishkhanyan, head of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia; Tevan Poghosyan, MP, the Heritage Faction; Artak Zeynalyan, head of the Rule of Law NGO; and Edmon Marukyan, MP, lawyer.

The mass murder of six members of an Armenian family in Gyumri on January 12, 2015 sparked spontaneous rallies in Yerevan and Gyumri demanding that Permyakov be tried and serve the sentence in Armenia. Protesters’ demand has so far been neglected. Gevorg Kostanyan, General Prosecutor of Armenia, who visited Gyumri those days, assured protesters that the suspect will be sentenced in the territory of Armenia. However, his statement did not stop the wave of protests.

Ishkhanyan believes Armenians, especially Gyumri residents do not trust the official assumption that the soldier went to the Avetisyans’ house to drink water and slew the whole family. They fear the suspect may avoid punishment if he is not given to Armenian authorities.

“Evidently, Armenia is losing its sovereignty and it is giving in its justice. Where is the limit? How much should we give in?” said Avetik Ishkhanyan who condemned “police officers’ violence acts against peaceful protesters.

Armenian police officers provoked people in Yerevan, Artak Zeynalyan noted, while citizens were only helding a meeting of solidarity.

“Instead of patrolling in Shirak, searching to find the criminal, they hurried to disperse peaceful rallies. The incidents in Freedom Square on January 15 are nothing but a behavior of polizeis serving occupants,” said Zeynalyan, adding that Permyakov’s case is under the Russian jurisdiction and the suspect cannot be given to Armenia.

Presently, Permyakov is sued both by Armenian and Russian authorities. He is accused of killing a family in Gyumri and deserting his guard post armed.

Now the suspect is imprisoned by the order of the fifth Russian military base court, Edmon Marukyan said. “Yes, there are two lawsuits. The investigation is underway. All the data will be processed into one lawsuit, with a trial following the investigation. As a rule, convicts are sent to a prison in Russia after such trials,” explained Marukyan.

The Gyumri murder is already within a political context, Tevan Poghosyan believes. The bilateral agreement is breached.

“The agreement is breached as border guards should have handed the suspect to Armenian officers. He was in plain clothes and without an identity card. Besides, the agreement specifies the parties should establish a joint committee to resolve problems but it was not done. When people do not apply the legal mechanisms of solving problems, issues get political,” said Poghosyan.

“There are now preliminary discussions. Four of the parliamentary committees have agreed upon holding a discussion,” he added.

The speakers urged Armenian authorities to protect rights of citizens of Armenia, the country’s dignity and reveal the crime causes.

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