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Russian Soldier Sentenced To Life For Armenian Massacre

  • RFE/RL's Armenian Service

GYUMRI, Armenia -- An Armenian court has found a Russian soldier guilty of murder charges and sentenced him to life in prison for the 2015 massacre of seven members of an Armenian family.

The court in Armenia's northwestern city of Gyumri issued the verdict and sentence against Russian Army Private Valery Permyakov on August 23.

He was found guilty of all charges against him -- including the murder of seven people, a robbery attack, and an attempt to illegally cross the border.

The court did not specify where Permyakov would be imprisoned.

According to some Armenian media reports, Permyakov is likely to serve his sentence in a Russian prison rather than in an Armenian facility.

Permyakov, who had reportedly admitted his guilt, waived his right to make a final statement during closing arguments in his trial on August 19.

WATCH: On January 21, 2015, mourners attended the funeral for 6-month-old Seryozha Avetisian, ​who died in the massacre.

On January 12, 2015, six members of the Avetisian family were found dead in their house in Gyumri, including a 2-year-old girl.

All the victims had been shot or stabbed to death.

A 6-month-old boy who was seriously wounded in the violence died a week later.

The massacre of the family led to mass protests in Gyumri and in Yerevan against Russia's military presence in Armenia.

It also led to calls by demonstrators for the murder trial to be heard by Armenian judges in open court instead of by Russian military judges at a closed trial at the Russian base near Gyumri.

PHOTO GALLERY: Armenians Face Cold Reality After Gyumri Massacre

In January 2015, immediately after the killings, Permyakov fled the Russian military garrison without proper leave papers.

He was detained near the Armenian-Turkish border before he could leave Armenian territory.

In August 2015, a Russian military court found Permyakov guilty of desertion, theft of weapons, and illegally carrying weapons.

The Russian judges sentenced him to 10 years in a maximum-security prison in that criminal case.

He was then transferred by Russian authorities to the custody of Armenia to face murder charges in a separate trial under Armenian law.

Russia has a garrison of about 3,000 soldiers in Gyumri -- Moscow’s main foothold in the strategic South Caucasus region.

The base is about 120 kilometers northwest of Yerevan.