A Russian soldier charged with beating an Armenian woman to death will remain in custody on the premises of the Russian military base in Armenia's northwestern city of Gyumri, a local court has ruled.
Andrei Razgildeyev, 23, was arrested in December in connection with the violent death of Julieta Ghukasian, a 57-year-old street cleaner from Gyumri, and was charged by Armenian law enforcement bodies with brutal assault and involuntary manslaughter.
Although being charged under Armenian law, Razgildeyev has remained under arrest inside the Russian military base where he serves, despite complaints by the victim's family and human rights activists.
On March 19, the Shirak regional Court of General Jurisdiction rejected a request by the victim's family to transfer Razgildeyev to Armenian custody and have him tried by Armenian authorities.
Motives for Razgildeyev's alleged attack, for which he risks between five and 10 years in prison under Armenian law, remain unclear.
Arayik Zalian, a lawyer for Ghukasian's daughter, Anahit, says that a thorough and impartial investigation is only possible if Razgildeyev is handed over to Armenian authorities.
Mihran Martirosian, from the Armenian Prosecutor-General's Office, said that holding Razgildeyev inside the Russian base was legitimate, since it is stipulated by the Armenian-Russian intergovernmental agreement.
"The accused was arrested on the territory of the Russian Federation's 102nd base. Therefore, getting him out of the territory of the base is contrary to the Russian Federation's legislation," Martirosian said.
In 2015, another Russian soldier killed seven members of an Armenian family in Gyumri. A local court in August 2016 sentenced Private Valery Permyakov to life in prison.
Permyakov was held in detention at the Russian base before and during his trial. He was transferred to Russia to serve his sentence. The case sparked protests in Gyumri and elsewhere in Armenia.