14 injured in Gyumri melee as protesters demand Russian murder suspect’s handover

At least 14 people, including police officers, were injured in Gyumri as clashes took place in Armenia’s second largest city late on Thursday over the custody of a Russian soldier suspected of massacring a local family.

The melee reportedly took place near the Consulate of Russia where the Armenian riot police put up a heavy cordon to stop angry protesters from approaching the compound. Security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades and used truncheons for that purpose. The protesters responded by throwing stones at the police.

According to media reports, at least 9 citizens and 5 police workers were hospitalized with different injuries sustained in the clashes, including one with burns. None of the injuries was said to be life threatening, however.

The protesters in Gyumri demand that Valeri Permyakov, the suspected murderer of the six-member family who is currently kept under Russian custody at the local Russian military base, be handed over to Armenian authorities for prosecution and trial.

Speaking to a large crowd of Gyumri protesters earlier on Thursday Armenia’s Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanyan admitted that under corresponding interstate agreements Russia was entitled to take Permyakov into custody, but he assured the people that the man will be tried in Armenia. Kostanyan, in particular, promised to submit a formal request to the Russian prosecutor general for the key suspect to be subjected to prosecution and trial under Armenian laws.

The violent protests in Gyumri took place at the end of a day that saw the funeral of the Avetisyans – two grandparents, their son and daughter, a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter – all of whom were butchered at the home on Monday morning. Six-month-old Seryozha, who was stabbed by the attacker, but survived is now at a hospital in Yerevan, with doctors fighting for his life.

Clashes between protesters and police also took place in Yerevan’s Liberty Square late on Thursday. Several activists were reportedly detained.