Blood, lawlessness, unauthorized activity: 30-year presence of Russian border guards in the Republic of Armenia

On September 30, 1992, the agreement “between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation on the status of the Russian border guard troops on the territory of the Republic of Armenia and the conditions of their activity” was signed. With that, RA authorized the Russian border guard troops to control the border of the Republic of Armenia with Turkey and Iran.

At the same time, however, the agreement stipulated that RA “consecutively takes under its protection the borders with Turkey and Iran, organizing their protection”. In other words, the Russian border guards were supposed to temporarily control the Armenia-Turkey and Armenia-Iran borders.

Over the years, however, in the process of controlling the Armenian borders by the Russians, there were developments that contradicted and violated the provisions of the above-mentioned treaty.

Union of Informed Citizens (UIC) summarized the 30-year activity of Russian border guards and its problematic episodes.

In 30 years, RA has not actually controlled the border with Turkey and Iran

Studying the Armenian-Russian agreement regarding the Russian border guards, the UIC found out that a number of measures and actions initially planned by it were never implemented.

The most prominent of them, perhaps, is the action provided for in Article 4, Clause 4 of the agreement: it provides that RA, along with the creation of its own border guard structures, should take control of its western and southern borders under its protection.

However, even 30 years after signing the above-mentioned agreement, no part of the border with Iran and Turkey has passed under the protection of RA.

In response to the inquiry of UIC addressed to the RA National Security Service, as to why RA has not controlled the mentioned borders or at least some parts of them since the signing of the agreement, the department answered that “the raised issue is outside the scope of the powers of the RA National Security Service”.

The UIC has forwarded the same question to the Government of the Republic of Armenia. As soon as the answer is received, it will be included in the publication.

Clause 1 of the same article stipulates that at the time of signing the agreement, “the locations of deployment of the Russian border guard troops shall be preserved until special agreements are signed between RA and the Russian Federation”.

In response to the inquiry of the UIC as to whether the aforementioned agreement was signed, the NSS gave a negative answer։ “no special agreement was signed.”

The UIC also revealed that Article 29 of the agreement, which provided for the creation of a Mixed Commission for solving issues related to the application of the agreement, was not implemented.

3 representatives from each of the parties were to be appointed as part of the commission. The commission was supposed to be located in Yerevan.

Nevertheless, one of the measures provided for in the contract was implemented, that is Article 10, which envisages signing an agreement on financing and logistical support of Russian border guards. The relevant operation was carried out on January 25, 1994.

Article 1 of the agreement is noteworthy, which stipulates: “The financing of the RF border guard troops in the Republic of Armenia is carried out by the parties on the basis of partial participation (Russian side: 50%, Armenian side: 50%).”

The actions of the Russian border guards in violation of the treaty

Russian border guards checking passports in Zvartnots airport.

Passport checks of departing and arriving citizens at Zvartnots International Airport are often carried out by the border guards of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (ФСБ) in our country instead of the border guards of the RA National Security Service.

UIC addressed this issue back in 2015.

At that time, in response to the inquiry made by the UIC, the RA National Security Service informed that the Russian border guards of the FSS of Russian Federation serve in Zvartnots International Airport in accordance with the agreement signed between the RA and the RF on September 30, 1992.

However, the study of the mentioned agreement clearly shows that there is no provision that would give the Russian border guards the right to perform any service at any airport in Armenia.

Instead, in Article 3 of the agreement, it is clearly established that “the border guard troops of the Russian Federation are not involved in the performance of other tasks not related to the protection of the RA border with Turkey and Iran (except for the elimination of natural disasters, accidents and other disasters)“.

Moreover, Article 6 of the same agreement stipulates: “the border troops of the Russian Federation carry out the passage of people, transport means, cargo, products and other items through the checkpoints located at the RA border with Turkey and Iran”

This exclusively refers to the checkpoints on the borders of Turkey and Iran, and there is no mention of checkpoints operating at airports.

Checkpoint on Meghri-Agarak road

In August 2022, border guards of the Russian Federal Security Service set up a checkpoint on the Meghri-Agarak road, stopping and checking RA citizens, and only then allowing their free movement from Meghri to Agarak.

According to the explanation provided by the federal service, the installation of the checkpoint “is conditioned by the increase in attempts to illegally smuggle narcotics and psychoactive substances from Iran to Armenia, which has created a tense situation.”

The federal service even claimed that “attempts of militants to cross the border were recorded last year”.

Although the Russian side was talking about the state border, the checkpoints were actually placed on the road passing through RA territory, between RA settlements.

As a result of the public outcry, the functioning of the checkpoints stopped (whereas the checkpoints on the Meghri-Shvanidzor road continue to function).

The UIC sent an inquiry to the National Security Service to find out on the basis of which legal regulations the mentioned checkpoint was installed. The service informed that the road between Meghri and Agarak communities is located in the “border layer” of the Armenian-Iranian state border.

Then, referring to the 1992 agreement and not specifying any specific provision, they claimed that “the installation of checkpoints by the Russian troops in the border zone is part of the border protection operations”.

It also turned out that the Russian border guards are not required to coordinate such actions with the RA government or any other state body.

In fact, there is no provision in the 1992 agreement that regulates such activities of Russian border guards. The mentioned action contradicts the interstate agreement and is illegal.

Blood and lawlessness: incidents with the involvement of the Russian border guards

Murders and violence

A bloody incident with the participation of Russian border guards took place in 1999, when two Russian border guards came out armed on the streets of Gyumri and opened fire on bystanders.

As a result of the armed incident, two RA citizens were killed.

In 2013, an incident was registered in the Syunik region between the former deputy of RA NA “Heritage” faction Zaruhi Postanjyan and Russian border guards.

At that time, the party Heritage party issued a statement that the FSB employees of the Russian Federation obstructed the right of Postanjyan and other members of the party to move freely while they were campaigning in Meghri.

No border guard was held accountable for the mentioned incident.

Russian border guards hep the murderer Permyakov escape

In January 2015, Russian border guards helped Valery Permyakov, the soldier of the Russian  Military Base 102 who was wanted for the murder of 7 members of the Avetisyan family in Gyumri, escape from the RA law enforcement officers near the village of Bayandur in the Shirak region.

This operation violated a number of interstate agreements, including the agreement of September 30, 1992 on Russian border guards, particularly Article 3. This article stipulates that the legislation of Armenia prevails for border guards, and if there is a conflict between the legislation of Armenia and Russia, then they must be guided by the legislation of Armenia.

The agreement stipulates that the border guards cannot be involved in any activity,except for the protection of the Armenian-Turkish, Armenian-Iranian borders and the elimination of the consequences of natural and other types of disasters.

House raids, leakage of personal data

In 2015, the Russian border guards reserved the right to raid the house of Yezidi refugees that were displaced by the war in Iraq and were legally settled in Arak village, Armavir region of the Republic of Armenia, and collect their passports.

In 2016, pro-Russian groups published data on citizens and vehicles that crossed RA border checkpoints.

According to media investigations, there are reasonable suspicions that the leak was organized by the border guards of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, which, as it was revealed in those days, with the permission of the Armenian side, has unrestricted access to the RA Border Management Systems (BEM), that is, to the data regarding all citizens crossing the RA border.

Regarding this issue, the “Union of Informed Citizens” once appealed to the Personal Data Protection Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Armenia.

In 2017, Russian border guards did not allow the residents of Tlik village in Aragatsotn region to approach the drinking water pumping station under their control in order to repair it.

As a result, the village was left without drinking water for 20 days.

Nane Manasyan
Union of Informed Citizens


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