NewsRussian Deserters Detained in Armenia: A Test of Sovereignty

Russian Deserters Detained in Armenia: A Test of Sovereignty

Russian military detained another citizen in Armenia. Illustrative photo.
Russian military detained another citizen in Armenia. Illustrative photo.
Images source: © East News | AA/ABACA
6:37 AM EDT, April 10, 2024

Russian military personnel stationed in Armenia have detained another deserter, highlighting what the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) views as Moscow's challenge to Armenia's sovereignty amid worsening relations between the two countries.

The Armenian branch of the Helsinki Civil Assembly (HCA), an international human rights organization, reported on April 9th that a Russian citizen was detained by the Russian military gendarmerie in Gyumri, where the 102nd military base of the Russian Armed Forces is located.

Anatoliy Shchetin, who was in Armenia, is accused of deserting before being deployed to the front lines in Ukraine. The detained deserter was reportedly going to be secretly and forcibly taken back to Russia.

Illegal activities of the Russian gendarmerie

Ani Khachatryan, a lawyer for the Helsinki Assembly, told Radio Free Europe in an interview that the organization has filed a complaint with the General Prosecutor's Office of Armenia regarding the crime committed by the Russians. She pointed out that Russian law enforcement has no authority to detain individuals in Armenia—Armenian services should handle such cases.

Previously, in December 2023, Russian gendarmes from the 102nd military base arrested 20-year-old Dmitry Sietrakov for desertion. Without notifying the Armenian authorities, Sietrakov was secretly taken out of the country—the Russians intended to put him on trial, where he faced up to 10 years in prison.

In February of this year, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that an investigation into the incident was underway, asserting that Armenia "cannot tolerate illegal activities on its territory."

The ISW, an American think tank, believes that Moscow is striving to strengthen its position through these actions and create a narrative of Armenia's limited sovereignty. Illegal detentions occur against the backdrop of the ongoing decline in Armenian-Russian relations.

Source: ISW, WP News

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