Authorities Pledge Full Investigation Of Russian Officer’s Murder

By Ruzanna Khachatrian

Radio Liberty, Czech Rep.
Aug 8 2007

Armenian authorities reject any ethnic motives behind the murder
of a Russian citizen in Armenia on Monday night and pledge full
investigation to reveal the circumstances of the crime.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office of Armenia has positively responded
to the request of the Russian side and is ready to allow the presence
of a Russian official during the investigation. A representative of
the Russian Military Prosecutor’s Office is due to arrive soon.

Gennady Yermolov, 22, a citizen of the Russian Federation who served
at the Russian border troops stationed in Ashtarak in the rank of
lieutenant, was attacked and murdered outside Yerevan just after
midnight on August 6. His four friends escaped alive the attack by two
young persons near the village of Arinj, in Armenia’s Kotayk province.

The attackers identified as Artem Andreasian and Gor Balian flagged
down a passing VAZ 2101 car and ordered its five passengers, including
Yermolov, out.

After subjecting them to severe beating, the men armed with hunting
rifles allowed them to leave. But no sooner had their car began to
move than the two opened fire, fatally wounding Yermolov, who died
on the way to hospital.

The case was reported to the local police by Russian citizen and
officer of the same military unit Anatoly Krylov, who was driving
the car on that night. Police later arrested the two suspects and
confiscated their rifles.

According to reliable sources, there was no exchange of fire during
the incident.

Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gegham Gharibjanian discarded all
speculations that the murder of the Russian citizen could have been
committed on ethnic grounds.

"Only people with infantile mentality can think of such a thing. Such
decisions could hardly be made at half past twelve at night,"
he explained.

"I had a telephone conversation with Russia’s deputy foreign minister
Grigory Karasin whom I informed about the situation," Gharibjanian

He also said the ministry will closely follow the process and will
be in constant touch with Russian colleagues.

The 72-hour term of the suspects’ preliminary detention will expire
on Thursday.

According to spokeswoman for the Prosecutor-General’s Office Sona
Truzian, charges will be brought against Andreasian and Balian

RFE/RL’s attempts to find the coordinates of the victim’s side at the
Russian embassy or elsewhere have failed. The lawyer for Andreasian
and Balian promised to get in touch later, but didn’t call back. His
mobile phone remained switched off as of this filing.

Earlier, some Armenian media alleged that the two suspects worked for
oligarch Gagik Tsarukian’s security. But sources close to Tsarukian
deny that information. They say the suspects were ordinary residents
of Arinj.

The reported crime scene near the village of Arinj is in the vicinity
of Tsarukian’s old and new houses. A dozen SUVs were seen near
Tsarukian’s mansion around noon on Wednesday.

Most of the two dozen locals approached by RFE/RL refused to talk
about the case. A teenager who agreed to talk on the record said the
Russian officer himself was mainly to blame for what happened.

"Because people in Arinj cannot harm others without a reason," he said.

Investigators have not officially brought forward any theories
regarding the case yet.