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Russian military police arrest Russian citizen in Armenia on desertion charges

Source: Meduza

Russian military police have arrested Russian citizen Dmitry Setrakov in Armenia and taken him to a Russian military base in Gyumri, Armenia. According to the human rights organization Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly—Vanadzor, a criminal case has been opened against Setrakov in Russia for desertion.

Artur Sakunts, the organization’s director, said that Setrakov had been a contract soldier in Russia but moved to Armenia following the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Sakunts learned of Setrakov’s arrest from Russian human rights activists who were contacted by Setrakov’s wife.

At the Russian military base, Sakunts was told that “it was an order from Russian President Vladimir Putin to arrest all such defectors” and that if found guilty, Setrakov would serve out his sentence in Russia.

Sakunts emphasized that Russian military police do not have the authority to arrest even Russian citizens in Armenia; only Armenian law enforcement agencies have that right. He called the arrest “an attack on the legal system of Armenia, on Armenia as a sovereign state.”

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly—Vanadzor demanded that Armenian authorities “take all the necessary efforts to return Dmitriy Leonidovich Setrakov under [Armenia’s] legal protection.”

As noted by the news outlet Vot Tak, Russians accused of desertion or evasion of military service have been arrested in Armenia before. However, these arrests were carried out by local police and the detainees were released after a few hours.

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