On July 17, the servicemen of the 102ndRussian base in Gyumri held a “drill” in the village of Panik, Karen Sarukhanyan, the governor of Shirak Marz, said.
On July 18 the governor met with the deputy commander of the base Alexey Paylukhanovich. The latter said that what happened had not been assigned by the command. They assured that this will never repeat again and apologized to the people of the village, noting that this is the first such case, and those guilty must be punished, the governor of Shirak said. After this meeting the deputy commander of the Russian base told reporters that he had passed their apologies to the governor. “A disciplinary action is underway, and we will see the results,” he said.
Note that the servicemen went to Panik in cars and drove down the streets of the village and shot in the air. People were scared at first but then they realized those were the Russian servicemen and told them to leave.
This scandal shows that the Russian servicemen feel to be privileged in the territory of Armenia. Though the places where they are stationed are limited by agreement, they freely move around in Armenia while carrying their weapons, even fire and frighten people.
Many years ago, in Syunik region the Russian border guards stopped Member of Parliament Zaruhi Postanjyan and wanted to search her. Then the issue was resolved “internally”, though the Russian border guards never explained who had given them the right to go so far from the border.
The second case was in January 2015 when Valery Permyakov killed a family in Gyumri and then the Russian servicemen were walking around Gyumri with their guns trying to find him. Then questions occurred about the Russian base. Do the Russian servicemen have the right to go to the city with weapons?
Armenia must resolve this issue once and for all by conducting its own investigation. Resolving problems “between them” results in a situation when the Russian soldiers feel more than at home in Armenia because at home it would never occur to them to go to places with weapons.