A Russian soldier suspected of killing an entire family in Armenia has been convicted of desertion as a precursor to his murder trial.

Valery Permyakov, who served with a Russian military base in Gyumri, is suspected of shooting six family members dead and stabbing a 6-month-old baby to death in the Armenian city in January. He was captured quickly after the killings and pleaded guilty to the charges.

A Russian military court in Gyumri on Wednesday handed him a 10-year prison sentence on charges of desertion and illegal weapons possession. Armenian investigators are pursuing a separate murder probe, and a date for that trial hasn't been set yet.

Russia agreed to let Armenia handle the murder investigation after thousands rallied in Gyumri demanding that the soldier face justice in Armenia.