Permyakov Trial Begins in Gyumri (updated)

Valeri-Permyakov3 Russian soldier Valeri Permyakov.

The trial of Russian soldier Valery Permyakov, accused in the gruesome murder of the Avetisyan family in January of this year, began today in Gyumri.

Permyakov was stationed at the 102nd Russian Military Base in the northwestern city of Gyumri when he deserted his post, wandered into the city heavily armed and committed the multiple murders.

The trial, which will hear the case against Permyakov for desertion with weapons, seizure of weapons and illegally carrying a weapon according to the Russian penal code, took place at the 5th Garrison Court of the Russian Federation’s South Caucasus Military District.

The case against the Russian soldier with respect to the seven murdered members of the Avetisyan family will be conducted by an Armenian court, the date of which has yet to be set as the investigation is still ongoing.

Alyona Katkalo, the press secretary of Russia’s South Caucasus Military District issued a formal statement noting that Valeri Permyakov pled guilty to the charges brought against him by the court. The court also extended Permyakov’s detention to January 30, 2016.

Permyakov’s lawyer said that the accused, citing his legal rights, refused to answer questions. During the hearing, Permyakov’s confession made during the investigation were read to the court, however all the details regarding the murders were withheld as they would be heard during the court hearing to be conducted by the Armenian side.

During the investigation, Permyakov had said that he deserted the military base because he no longer wished to serve, he wanted to return home. He said that he had taken his rifle in order to scare people away and to secure funds and clothing for himself and also to protect himself against stray dogs. He went on to say that he planned to sell his weapon in Turkey. Under questioning during the investigation, he told officers that he walked into the Avetisyan home by chance. When members of the family woke up, he was scared and began to shoot and then changed his clothes, left his gun and belongings behind and ran off.  He cited the reason for deserting the base as the desire to return home and that there was no other reason. He walked off the base at approximately 2:00 AM and planned to return home by crossing the Turkish border. He said that he left his weapon at the Avetisyan home at about 6:00 AM. After leaving the Avetisyan residence, he began to make his way to the Turkish border. In the meantime, he hid in a small house, slept for a while and waited until nightfall to cross the border. He had said that he wanted to return to his native village and hide there.

It was said that the hearing would be open, however, officials allowed journalists to film only the opening and closing. According to the press secretary Alyona Katkalo, a verdict may be handed down today.

Members of the Avetisyan family were also present during the hearing. Prior to the start of the hearing they said that they did not believe that Permyakov had acted alone in the murders.

In the early morning hours of January 12, six members of the Avetisyan family were shot in their home and their six-month-old infant Seryozha Avetisyan was stabbed. The accused, Russian soldier Valery Permyakov was stationed at the 102nd Russian Military Base in Gyumri. Permyakov was apprehended by Russian military personnel trying to cross the Armenia-Turkey border. He is currently being held in custody at the Russian base. On January 14 and 15 protests took place in Gyumri and Yerevan demanding that the accused be handed over to Armenian authorities and to stand trial in an Armenian court. On January 19, Seryozha Avetisyan succumbed to his injuries and died in hospital in Yerevan.

At the end of June,  Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan met with Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov in Yerevan at the height of the Electric Yerevan protests. As a result of that meeting, the Russian side agreed to hand over Permyakov to the Armenian side, something which they had refused to do beforehand, citing Russia’s constitution regarding extradition of Russian nationals.