Protesters demand closure of Russian base in Armenia
Two demonstrations took place in Yerevan yesterday in front of the Russian Embassy to Armenia. The first demanded the closure of a Russian military base in the country, and the second, organized by Armenian communists, expressed their support for Russia.
On 3 December, a woman was murdered in Gyumri, the second largest city in Armenia.
Julieta Gukasyan, 57, was allegedly assaulted by a serviceman from the 102nd Russian military base in the city. After the attack, she was taken to hospital where she was able to convey who had attacked her on her way to work. However, her injuries were too severe and she passed away.
She had worked as a janitor in the Gyumri municipal housing department.
Almost immediately after news of her death, it was reported that she had been killed by a Russian serviceman. However, his name and the reason for committing the crime are still unknown.
Protesters demanded that the Russian military base be closed down. They said they were outraged by the behavior of the Russian military, which threatens the security of Armenian citizens.
They justified their demand not only by referring to the last murder, but also to the tragedy of the Avetisyan family: in 2015, Russian serviceman Valery Permyakov killed seven members of the family, including an infant.
There are also numerous other stories about how drunken Russian soldiers have organised fights and shootouts which have resulted in dozens of civilian injuries.
Demonstrators complained that the current government of Armenia has continued the same policy towards Russia as the previous authorities.
“We are forming a new political agenda for Armenia, and this is one of the priorities of our political agenda. Yes, this is a political question. This is a matter of the lives and safety of the citizens of Armenia, because we don’t know when, where, or with whom [a] Russian soldier will meet and what atrocities they will commit,” said one of the organizers of the protest, journalist Narine Mkrtchyan.
Supporting Russian interests
Immediately after the first demonstration, Armenian communists came out in support of Russia under the slogan “Forever with Russia”, and stated that the 102nd Russian military base is necessary to ensure security in Armenia.