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Police Clash With Protesters Demanding Russian Soldier Be Tried In Armenia

  • RFE/RL's Armenian Service

Tension is high in Armenia following clashes between police and protesters demanding the handover of a Russian soldier accused of murdering six members of an Armenian family near Russia's military base in the former Soviet republic.

At least 15 people were injured in the clashes on January 15 outside the Russian consulate in the city of Gyumri, the site of the Russian base and the home of the family that was massacred on January 12.

More than 20 people were briefly detained by police during the clashes, which came after huge crowds mourned at a funeral ceremony for the victims.

Protesters want Russia to hand over Private Valery Permyakov, who authorities say has confessed to the killings, for prosecution and trial in Armenia.

The Russian military on January 15 pledged to ensure "the most severe punishment" for the crime, but there was no sign Moscow will transfer Permyakov to Armenian custody.

The killings are testing ties between regional giant Russia and Armenia, its only ally in the strategic South Caucasus.