Gone Too Soon

“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” ― Joseph Conrad

2015 brought an unthinkable tragedy into the family of Avetisyans. Six of its members were brutally murdered on January 12 in their home in Gyumri: 2nd largest city of the Republic of Armenia. Armenians of the world are mourning the loss of 6 innocent people: husband and wife Seryozha and Hasmik Avetisyans 56 and 54 years old respectively, their 34-year-old son Armen Avetisyan, their 36-year-old daughter Aida Avetisyan, their 24-year-old daughter-in-law Araksya Poghosyan, and their 2-year-old granddaughter Asmik Avetisyan. Little Seryozha, their 6-month-old grandson, who, by all laws of science and medicine should have been the seventh member on this tragic list, was found laying next to his mother’s lifeless body – fighting for his life. One shudders at the thought of the terror that this tiny human was forced to encounter, the degree of evil that he faced. What unnatural forces helped him to survive the injuries inflicted by a hand of a monster would eternally stay an enigma, but he managed to pull through, and this alone is considered nothing less than a miracle.

In the city of Gyumri, 126 kilometers from Yerevan, the Russian 102nd Military Base is located. Established in 1940s for security reasons – it is guarding the borders of Armenia with Turkey – this Military Base is and has been one of the most important objects of geopolitical presence of Russia in the Caucasus. It is one of the pivotal elements representing Russian-Armenian relations, relations that were formed over decades and built on mutual trust, that were shattered in a day. It was in this Military Base that the alleged murderer was serving. It is said that the 18-year-old Valeriy Permyakov, a Russian solder from the Russian city of Tver, had been transferred to the 102nd Military Base in Gyumri in the month of December of 2014. On that notorious day, Permyakov left the Military Base without authorization and went for a stroll dressed in his military attire and armed with his AK-74 automatic rifle (the main service rifle currently used by Russian and Armenian armed forces). He then allegedly knocked at the door of the Avetisyans’ house, however did not wait for an answer and let himself in. We already know what happened next. Just like that, an 18-year-old soldier murdered a family of six. We cannot fathom what could have possibly filled him with so much hatred not only towards the adults of the household but towards 2 innocent kids, who had neither done harm to him nor to anyone else. How, after the AK-74 misfired (and it is believed that this weapon does not misfire even in worst conditions possible) during the attempt to kill the 6-month-old child, could he reach for the knife and try to finish the job by stabbing him?

He fled the scene of the murder leaving behind shattered lives, his military boots with his name inscribed on the inside and his military uniform. By changing his clothes he hoped to escape undetected. The next day, on January 13, Permyakov was detained by Armenian border guards near the Armenian-Turkish border during his attempts to cross the border and flee to Turkey.