Hetq searched the court archives to compare the case materials regarding the January 12, 2015 murder of seven members of the Gyumri Avetisyan family, in which a Russian soldier has been charged, and the Gyumri murders committed by two Russian soldiers in 1999.
Parallels are often drawn between the two cases given that they both took place in Gyumri and that Russian soldiers were involved.
However, after examining nine case files in the 1999 incident, Hetq has uncovered essential differences in the way the murders were investigated.
To recap, on April 14, 1999, two Russian soldiers stationed at the Russian army base in Gyumri, Aleksey Kamnyev and Denis Popov, left the base without permission. They initially wanted to telephone Popov’s relatives in Russia. However, they changed their mind and entered a café. They ordered some cakes and two bottles of vodka. Upon leaving they attempted to gain access to a house located on Jivani Street in order to use the toilet. (They chose not to use a nearby public toilet). According to court files, building residents chastised the soldiers, who were drunk. The soldiers, in response, cursed the residents for ten minutes but then left the scene.
Upon returning to the army base, the two soldiers seized arms and ammunition from their fellow soldiers and returned to Gyumri. For almost one hour, the two soldiers fired their weapons in the direction of passersby. Luckily, vendors at the local produce market were able to disarm the soldiers.
Thus, the entire series of events started on the morning of April 14, when the soldiers illegally left the base and then entered Armenian state territory. They then reentered the base, seized weapons, and again entered Armenian state territory to inflict physical harm and attempt murder.
One of the weapons used in 1999
The two were apprehended by Armenian law enforcement and an Armenian court issued they be given pre-trial detention.
The two Russian soldiers were held at the Gyumri #2 Investigative Solitary Confinement Unit.
It is interesting to note that the Russian Military Prosecutor, as the investigating body, also issued that the two be detained while awaiting trial.
As a result, two different legal bodies issued pre-trial detention in the same case.
This is quite different from the January 12, 2015 murder case involving Russian soldier Valery Permyakov who was arrested by Russian border guards and then handed over to the jurisdiction of the Russian army base where, several days later, he received pre-trial detention by a Russian court.
Vaghinak Simonyan, the driver of this Niva, was killed in the 1999 murder spree
The Armenian preliminary examination body in the Permyakov case has not filed for pre-trial detention with the Shirak Provincial Court of Jurisdiction. Consequently, Armenian courts haven’t issued pre-trial detention for the Russian soldier.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee argues that when Permyakov was being charged, pre-trial detention had already been selected in the criminal case launched by Russia’s Investigative Committee.
In the 1999 case, a criminal case of murder wasn’t launched according to Russia’s Criminal Code. The two Russian soldiers were charged according to ten articles (desertion, hooliganism, attempted murder, murder) from the Criminal Codes of both Armenia and Russia.
The reason why murder and attempted murder charges based on Russia’s Criminal Code weren’t levied was because those crimes took place on Armenian territory.
Case reenactment - Aleksey Kamnyev outside the Gyumri cafe
In contrast, the criminal case of murder against Permyakov has been based on articles from the Criminal Codes of Russia and Armenia simultaneously.
Another difference is that in the 1999 case, the two Russian soldiers were found mentally competent after undergoing psychiatric evaluation as in-patients at the Nubarashen Psychiatric Ward. The two soldiers were even taken to the scene of the crime for a reenactment.
So far, Armenia’s Investigative Committee has failed to order an in-patient psychiatric evaluation of Permyakov.
Responding to Hetq on the matter, the Investigative Committee said that such an evaluation would definitely be ordered.
To be continued
Top photo: Denis Popov and Aleksey Kamnyev during the case investigation