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Russia reportedly transfers ‘kidnapped’ deserter from Armenia to Rostov

20 December 2023
Dmitriy Setrakov. Image via Vot Tak.

Russia has reportedly transferred a man they are alleged to have kidnapped in Gyumri to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, despite Armenian authorities claiming to have no knowledge of his detention or departure from the country.

On Tuesday, Idite Lesom (‘go through the woods’), a project created to help Russians avoid military service, said that Dmitry Setrakov was being held at the Southern Military District’s Regional Military Police Directorate.

The project added that they were looking for a lawyer to represent Setrakov in Russia.

According to the group, Setrakov was abducted by members of the Russian military police posing as Armenian personnel on 6 or 7 December.

How Setrakov could have been transferred to Russia remains unknown.

On Wednesday, Armenian authorities denied that Setrakov was extradited, with the Prosecutor General’s advisor, Lusine Martirosyan, stating that they had not ‘received, discussed, or approved’ any request to ‘to arrest, detain and hand over Dmitriy Setrakov’ to Russia. 

‘The General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Armenia does not have any information regarding the investigation of Dmitriy Setrakov by the competent authorities of the Russian Federation, as well as his discovery in the territory of the Republic of Armenia’, added Martirosyan.

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The Armenian National Security Service did not respond to a request for comment on how Setrakov could have crossed the border without their knowledge.

Setrakov reportedly moved to Armenia in late November to avoid fighting in Ukraine. Vot Tak, a Belarusian news outlet, reported that Setrakov could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of desertion.

‘Universal silence’ from Armenian authorities

Setrakov’s alleged abduction and transfer to Russia has raised questions about the authorities’ willingness to confront illegality by Russian troops stationed in the country.

Artur Sakunts, the head of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor, a local rights group, decried the lack of ‘reasonable explanation at any official level’.

‘I am amazed at the universal silence at the political level, at the level of the National Assembly [parliament], law enforcement bodies, that they did not consider it an encroachment on the security of the Republic of Armenia’, Sakunts said in an interview on Tuesday with Levon Barseghyan.

Sakunts added that he had asked the National Security Service about the circumstances in which Setrakov left the country.

‘What documents and justifications were presented? [Setrakov] crossed the border on his own, but was caught on the other side of the border?’

‘Does the National Security Service border guard service exist or not?’, he asked. 

A day prior to Setrakov’s reported transfer to Russia, Sakunts had appealed to the authorities to take measures to close ‘all possible channels for the possible illegal transportation of Setrakov’. 

Sakunts previously called on the Prosecutor’s Office to press charges against the Russian officers involved in abducting Setrakov.

The prosecutor’s office responded that Setrakov’s case had been handed over to law enforcement agencies to verify the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.

Armenia’s Investigative Committee said they had ‘processed’ Sakunts’ application, but have yet to announce whether they planned to launch an investigation.

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Read in Russian on SOVA.News.