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As the trial of a Russian private accused of slaughtering an entire Armenian family in January gets under way in Gyumri on August 12, RFE/RL takes a look at some of the worst crimes Russian soldiers have been accused of committing abroad, off the battlefield.
Russian soldiers charged with crimes in what Moscow likes to call its “near abroad” are usually tried by Russian garrison military courts rather than being handed over for trial in the host country.
September 2009, Tajikistan
Two Russian soldiers, Vyacheslav Chernov and Dmitry Kuchma, were arrested on suspicion of murdering a Tajik police captain named Amur Murodov who was moonlighting as a taxi driver. According to the Tajik prosecutor, Murodov had been driving the pair from Dushanbe to Kurgan-Tyube in the south.
Fergana News reported that the soldiers confessed and that the killing occurred after an argument. It said soldiers at Russia’s 201st military base in Tajikistan often receive their wages late, meaning that soldiers and the drivers who shuttle them around on leave often work with a system of IOUs, leading to tensions.
January 2012, Moldova
About six and a half hours into the year 2012, a Russian soldier dispatched as a peacekeeper to monitor the border zone between breakaway Transdniester and the rest of Moldova shot and killed an 18-year-old Moldovan citizen. At 6:30 a.m., having already reportedly ignored peacekeepers at the checkpoint that night, the Moldovan man drove through a checkpoint without stopping, at which a Russian soldier opened fire from an assault rifle. The man was hospitalized and later died from his wounds.
Russia opened an inquiry but later dropped the case, judging the soldier to have acted correctly, although the killing prompted Chisinau to call on Russia to remove its peacekeepers. Vlad Filat, then prime minister, was quoted as saying that "there was no reason for the murder. The criminal must be punished."
April 2014, Crimea
A month after Russia took over Crimea and annexed it from Ukraine, Yevgeny Zaitsev, a Russian soldier, was accused of fatally shooting Stanislav Karachevsky, a Ukrainian soldier who was preparing to leave the peninsula for mainland Ukraine. Zaitsev was reportedly sentenced to two years in prison by a garrison military court for the shooting in April 2015.
August 2015, Tajikistan...............
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