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Yeranuhi Soghoyan

Gyumri Municipal Council Member to Russian Military Base 102: “Keep Your Beasts in Cages”

Gyumri Municipal Council member Levon Barseghyan (photo) has called for a barbed wire fence and surveillance cameras to be placed around the 102nd Russian Military Base in order to prevent soldiers inside from committing more acts of violence against the local populace.

Today, in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city, Barseghyan organized a demonstration to protest past acts of violence committed by Russian soldiers stationed at the base, the most infamous of which was the murder of seven Avetisyan family members by Russian serviceman Valery Permyakov in 2015.

The Russian base has been a bone of contention for years. While some view it as a security bulwark for Armenia from possible Turkish aggression and a visible sign of Russian military support, others view it as a sign of  continuing Armenian dependence on Moscow.

Last month, a Russian serviceman at the base was arrested as a suspect in the brutal beating of Julieta Ghazaryan, a 57-year-old Gyumri street sweeper. In 1999, two drunken Russian soldiers armed with AK-74 assault rifles entered Gyumri and opened fire, killing two and injuring fourteen.

Police were on hand at today’s demonstration but had little to do given the small turnout.

Leaflets displaying the face of Julieta Ghazaryan were distributed by Barseghyan and affixed to police barricades. The posters read: “Russian Military Base 102, keep your beasts in cages. We are not responsible for them.”

Barseghyan told reporters on the scene that he will be presenting a list of demands to the Armenian government that includes beefed-up security around the base to monitor the movement of soldiers into the city.

He’s also demanding that Russian military commanders at the base conduct periodic psychological testing of its servicemen and officers.