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Armenia And Russia Discuss Custody Of Murder Suspect

GYUMRI, Armenia -- Armenian and Russian authorities are discussing which country will have custody of a Russian soldier suspected of killing six members of an Armenian family near Russia's military base in the South Caucasus nation.

Deputy Chief of Armenia's police force, Unan Pogosian, told reporters in Gyumri on January 13 that the authorities are also determining which country will investigate and prosecute a crime that could increase tensions between the military allies.

Russian officials said Private Valery Permyakov was detained by the Russian Federal Security Service's border guards in Armenia on January 13, shortly after midnight, while trying to cross the border into Turkey dressed in civilian clothing. He was handed over to the commander of the Russian base.

Pogosian said Permyakov confessed to the January 12 attack in which a couple, their son and daughter-in-law, a 2-year-old granddaughter, and an unmarried daughter were shot dead. The couple's six-month-old grandson was stabbed but survived.

Officials have not commented publicly on a possible motive or said whether Permyakov knew the victims.

Russia has about 3,000 troops at the base in Gyumri, one of its largest military installations abroad.

Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Union, two Russian-dominated groups of former Soviet republics.

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