Taking into account that after the killing of the Avetisyan family in Gyumri on January 12 the interest to the Russian base in Armenia does not decrease, Mediamax has decided to focus on this topic in its next article for the "Key" section.
1. How, when and under what circumstances was the Russian 102nd Military Base established in Armenia?
-The military base was established on September 1, 1994, on the basis of the 127th Motor Rifle Division of the Transcaucasian Military District. On March 16, 1995, Presidents of Russia and Armenia Boris Yeltsin and Levon Ter-Petrosyan signed a treaty on the deployment of Russian military base in Armenia for 25 years with automatic extension for five years if none of the parties objected to it.
“On April 18, 1997, the treaty was ratified by the Russian State Duma which overcame the resistance of the pro-Azeri lobby the mouthpiece for which was Chairman of the Russian Duma's Defense Committee, Lieutenant General Lev Rokhlin. The MPs of the Armenian National Assembly did not make themselves waiting and ratified the treaty a few days later”, wrote former Ambassador of Russia to Armenia Vladimir Stupishin.
2. What changed after the Presidents of Armenia and Russia signed Protocol No. 5 in 2010?
- Protocol No. 5 of the Armenian-Russian agreement of 1995, extending the deployment of the Russian military base in Gyumri till 2044, was signed during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s state visit to Armenia in August, 2010. The validity term of the agreement was 25 years and the protocol extended the period for up to 49 years. Other than that, by this Protocol the area of the base’s geographical and strategic responsibility was also expanded. If the operation of the base was previously limited to the external borders of former USSR, then this restriction was withdrawn from the agreement text after the Protocol was signed.
The Russian party undertook the commitment to jointly ensure Armenia’s military security and provide support to equip the Armenian Armed Forces with up-to-date arms.
3. How many servicemen serve in the military base and what armament does it possess?
-The total number of the servicemen of the Russian 102nd Military Base is around 5000. According to the information provided by military sources, the base is armed with 74 tanks, 17 IFV, 148 APC, 84 artillery systems, and S-300 and S-200 surface-to-air missile systems. In 2012, the base received over 200 new and modern Perun, Grotto and Breeze UAVs compatible with GLONASS and GPS navigation systems.
The means and forces of the Armenian and Russian air defense took up the permanent and joint duty in 2001. 18 Russian MiG-29 based in Erebuni Airport in Yerevan are on duty to protect and defend the air frontiers within the United Air Defense System of the CIS countries.
4. Who pays for the base?
- Moscow rents the base free of charge. The base is partially contained at the expense of the Armenian state budget.
5. What was the base engaged in, in 2014?
- Over 2014, more than 100 military squad and platoon firings, about 15 tactical exercises of various levels including those within a formation have been held.
The main focus was on training and holding of joint exercises with the Armenian Defense Ministry subdivisions and the first tactical exercise within the whole military base involving aviation and air defense forces.
Over 2014, about 3500 training sessions of small arms firing and about 500 classes for combat vehicles were carried out. Over 2200 practical classes, about 1500 test and control exercises were held at the trainings of driving of armored vehicles and military equipment.
Pilots of Erebuni Russian air base carried out over 500 flights. The overall flying time made over 2000 hours.
6. What criminal incidents involving Russian military servicemen have occurred?
- On April 14, 1999, two drunken Russian servicemen, armed with rifles, came to Gyumri market and opened desultory fire. Two people were killed and nine were wounded. Armenian and Russian judicial authorities agreed that the trial be held in Armenia under the chairmanship of an Armenian judge and in conformity with the Armenian legislation. Russian soldiers were also supposed to endure their sentence in Armenia.
By the decision of the Gyumri Court, they were sentenced to respectively 15 and 14 years in maximum security penal colony. According to unofficial information, the criminals were transferred to Russia and in total, spent 7-8 years in jail.
On July 11, 2003, there was exchange of fire at the Russian base. Several young people tried to infiltrate into its territory and met with the resistance of the soldier on duty. As a result of the scuffle, fire weapon was applied. Gyumri residents Arthur Poghosyan and Armen Aroyan were killed. Two other people were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds. Following this incident, Commander of Base Major General Alexander Titov was relieved from his post by the order of the Defense Minister of Russia. The report of the Transcaucasian Military District stated that Titov committed gross infringement of the military discipline and “did not fulfill his duty of service”.
On April 7, 2013, A. Mkrtchyan born in 2001 and M. Gevorgyan born in 1997 died in the territory of the tank range of the Russian base. The children had stepped on a mine.
Early in the morning of January 12, 2015, six members of the Avetisyan family were brutally killed in Gyumri. Six-month old Seryozha Avetisyan who was taken to hospital with stab wounds died on January 19. The principal defendant in the case is servicemen of the base Valery Permyakov.