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Armenia Asks Russia To Hand Over Massacre Suspect

YEREVAN -- Armenia has formally asked Russia to hand over a soldier charged with killing seven members of a single family near Russia's military base in the South Caucasus nation.

A statement issued late on February 3 said Armenian Prosecutor-General Gevork Kostanian has appealed to his Russian counterpart, Yury Chaika, to transfer Russian Private Valery Permyakov to Armenian custody.

The statement came hours after the Russian news agency Interfax cited a source as saying Permyakov would be tried on the Russian base in Gyumri, Armenia, where he has been held since his arrest a day after the January 12 killings.

The massacre of a family in Gyumri, including a two-year-old girl and six-month-old boy, sparked protests by Armenians demanding Permyakov be prosecuted and tried by Armenia.

Russia's military base in former Soviet Armenia is its strongest foothold in a strategic region close to Turkey, Iran, and the resource-rich Caspian Sea.

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