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Protesters Try To Burn Russian Flag As Armenians Mourn Family

  • RFE/RL's Armenian Service

GYUMRI, Armenia -- Large crowds mourned at a funeral ceremony for six members of an Armenian family investigators say were massacred by a Russian soldier, and protesters scuffled with police who prevented them from burning a Russian flag outside Moscow's embassy in Yerevan.

Tensions were high as parliament chairman Galust Sahakian and other lawmakers and public figures joined hundreds of people thronging the ceremony on January 15 at a church in the city of Gyumri, the site of Russia's military base.

The victims of the January 12 attack -- a local couple, their son and daughter-in-law, a 2-year-old granddaughter, and an unmarried daughter -- were buried after the ceremony. The couple's six-month-old grandson was stabbed but survived.

In the capital, Yerevan, police prevented dozens of angry protresters from buring a Russian flag outside the Russian Embassy and scuffled with the demonstrators. Two protesters -- one of them a prominent film director, Tigran Khzmalian -- were detained.

Authorities say Private Valery Permyakov has confessed to killing the six victims after he deserted the Russian base, Moscow's biggest foothold in the strategic South Caucasus. He was detained by Russian border guards near the Armenian-Turkish border on January 13.

The Armenian prosecutor-general's office has indicated that Russia will prosecute Permyakov. On January 14, protesters in Yerevan and Gyumri demanded the prosecutor-general come up with a solution by January 15 that would ensure he is tried in Armenia.