Local observers say that such incidents will not affect the presence of Russia’s military bases in Armenia
A serviceman on a Russian base in Armenia has been arrested by police on charges of murdering a local woman in Armenia’s second largest city, Gyumri.
Fifty-seven-year-old Juliet Gukasyan was taken to Gyurmi hospital after she sustained severe injuries on 3 December.
She was working as a janitor in the Gyumri housing and utilities department. On her way to work on morning, she was attacked from behind. She was able to speak about what happened to her before succumbing to her injuries.
The Armenian media reported that the family is rather poor, and that the local city hall helped them with funeral costs given they did not have enough money to cover the expenses.
Almost immediately after the news of Gukasyan’s death, the Armenian media reported that she was killed by a soldier of the 102nd Russian military base.
The Russian embassy was quick to refute the information:
“It is puzzling that such a highly unprofessional approach was taken in regards to working with information: completely ignoring the presumption of innocence, and replicating unverified and unconfirmed data under such bold headlines.”
The name of the serviceman and what caused the incident is still unknown.
Incidents with the Russian military base in Armenia
This is not the first tragedy a soldier of the Russian 102nd military base is involved in.
There are numerous stories about how drunken Russian soldiers organize fights and shootouts, which have injured dozens of civilians.
The most high-profile case was the murder of the Avetisyan family in January 2015 in which Russian soldier Valery Permyakov killed six family members. In 2016 an Armenian court sentenced him to life imprisonment. A Russian military court had previously sentenced him to ten years imprisonment in a high-security colony for desertion and for the theft and unlawful possession of weapons.
In July 2018, military personnel opened fire in the village of Panik. Later it became known that these were exercises, but the villagers were not warned about the planned exercises in advance. As a result of the shooting, panic broke out among the residents in the village.
A political commentator from Lragir.am, Naira Hayrumyan, told JAMnews that this incident will not affect the relations between Armenia and Russia, and that the issue of closing the base will not arise:
“The issue of the presence of the base lies in the political plane, and a decision on the issue is unlikely to depend on such incidents. Moreover, one can notice the unwillingness of the Armenian leadership to transfer discussions to the political plane, but such cases can be a reason, although tragic, for the revision of relations in the legal plane.
“For example, the trial of Valery Permyakov, who shot the Avetisyan family… was carried out on the Russian base, almost without access by Armenian law enforcement officers. How justice will be done this time is difficult to say, but the Armenian-Russian relations on the military base must first be corrected in their legal plane. The unconditional sovereign right of Armenia to justice should be guaranteed, and an audit of the contractual platform for the stay of the 102nd Russian base in Gyumri can begin with this.”