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Armenia

As Armenia Protests Killer's Pardon, Azerbaijan Promotes Him

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian announces the suspension of diplomatic relations with Hungary in Yerevan on August 31, within hours of news of the Azerbaijani pardon.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian announces the suspension of diplomatic relations with Hungary in Yerevan on August 31, within hours of news of the Azerbaijani pardon.
By RFE/RL's Armenian Service and RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service
A storm of protest threatened to set back relations in the fragile Transcaucasus and beyond after Azerbaijan promoted an ax murderer whose pardon after repatriation a day earlier provoked howls of international outrage, particularly in neighboring Armenia, in whose military the victim served.

Armenian officials had already cut ties with Hungary, where Azerbaijani national and confessed killer Ramil Safarov had been serving a life sentence before his August 31 handover to authorities in Baku.

Yerevan also vowed to protest the presidential pardon in a letter to the states that co-chair the OSCE Minsk Group, which has been working for years to settle a frozen Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict.

Safarov had claimed in his defense that the victim, Armenian officer Gurgen Margarian, had urinated on an Azerbaijani flag and otherwise "insulted" that country.

With tempers still raging over the presidential pardon, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Adiev on September 1 promoted Safarov from the military rank of lieutenant to major. The Defense Ministry also awarded Safarov over eight years in back pay in addition to giving him a free apartment.

Adiev went on to wish Safarov future success in his military career.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian had already expressed outrage and announced a suspension of all "diplomatic relations and all official contacts" with Budapest over Hungary's decision to return Safarov to Azerbaijan.

In a statement on September 2, Sarkisian also said his country is prepared to "fight and win" any war waged by Azerbaijan. He said Armenia does not want war but did not exclude that Baku would "impose" such a conflict.

Safarov's pardon, by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, also prompted questions by the United States.

Safarov was sentenced to life in prison in a 2006 trial for hacking the sleeping Armenian military officer to death at a NATO Partnership for Peace training mission in Hungary in 2004.

Aliyev offered no public explanation for the release, saying merely that Safarov was "released from serving his life sentence."

"I don't want to look back to that day," Safarov said in response to a question from RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service after his return to Baku.

Minsk Group In The Middle

Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a bloody war in the 1990s over the ethnic Armenian territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, with a shaky cease-fire the only guarantee of peace since 1994.

The OSCE Minsk Group -- which is co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United States -- has mediated stubbornly unsuccessful peace talks ever since.

Azerbaijan's head of state quickly pardoned Safarov after the surprise handover by Hungary, which Budapest says was based on the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

WATCH (in Azerbaijani): Ramil Safarov is greeted by family and well-wishers on his arrival in Baku after the Hungarian handover (Video by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service):

Ramil Safarov Welcomed In Baku (in Azerbaijani)i
X
August 31, 2012
Family and well-wishers greeted confessed ax murderer and Azerbaijani military officer Ramil Safarov on his return to Baku on August 31 after Hungary handed him over despite a life sentence for the 2004 killing.

Hungarian authorities have said they were given assurances by Baku that Safarov would serve out his sentence in his homeland.

"This [did] not happen suddenly," Vilayet Guliyev, Azerbaijani ambassador to Hungary, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service. "We had been working on this for many months. The extradition process from beginning to end was done by order of the Azerbaijani president and implemented by the embassy."

'Assurance' From Budapest

Hundreds of people protested outside the Hungarian consulate in Yerevan early on September 1, burning the Hungarian flag and throwing eggs, tomatoes, and coins.

Armenian President Sarkisian had said after an emergency meeting of his National Security Council on August 31 that Hungary made a "grave mistake." He said officials within Hungary's Foreign Ministry and parliament had offered assurances over a possible handover “during contacts in recent days.”

Sarkisian said that, instead, the release has sent a message of acceptance for "a murder committed on the basis of religious or ethnic hatred" that his country "cannot tolerate."

“The government of Hungary, at different levels, including the highest, has consistently and up until the last moment assured the government of Armenia that it will not take any steps whatsoever, which would result in the termination of serving justice by the perpetrator of a heinous murder and explicitly excluded any option for the execution of the transfer,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Azerbaijani military officer and confessed killer Ramil Safarov after his return to Baku on August 31.
Azerbaijani military officer and confessed killer Ramil Safarov after his return to Baku on August 31.

Armenia and Hungary, which is a member of the European Union and of NATO, do not have embassies in each other's capitals.

Hungary has nationalism issues of its own, with Viktor Orban's right-wing Fidesz government accused by political opponents recently of tolerating ethnically and nationalistically loaded remarks to avoid alienating the far right.

Washington Seeks Answers

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has demanded an explanation from Hungary and expressed "deep concern" at the development, which it suggests could complicate efforts to maintain stability and security in the region.

“President [Barack] Obama is deeply concerned by today’s announcement that the President of Azerbaijan has pardoned Ramil Safarov following his return from Hungary,” Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, said in a statement.

“We are communicating to Azerbaijani authorities our disappointment about the decision to pardon Safarov,” Vietor said. “This action is contrary to ongoing efforts to reduce regional tensions and promote reconciliation.”

“The United States is also requesting an explanation from Hungary regarding its decision to transfer Safarov to Azerbaijan,” he added.


Written by Andy Heil based on reporting by RFE/RL's Armenian and Azerbaijani services; with additional reporting by AFP
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by: minas
September 01, 2012 14:10
Why is it that RFE/RL's articles are always full of BS?! Instead of focusing on the details of this heinous crime you choose to repeat the lies made up by this creature(I just can't consider him to be a human). He claimed many things in the court to justify his actions but he failed to substantiate them and this last made-up story about the Armenian officer urinating on the azeri flag sounds so fictitious that i doubt even the brainwashed people of azerbaijan are going to believe it. Practically, it would have been impossible for an Armenian officer participating in a NATO program to urinate on the flag of another county in the presence of the other participants, the victim and the murderer were not roommates and most probably they didn't share the same bathrooms, needless to say that it would be impossible to urinate on a flag in a public bathroom without catching anyone's attention! So please cut the cr*p and stick to professional journalism.
In Response

by: Andy
September 01, 2012 15:12
Hi Minas,
The point of mentioning the contentions of Safarov is not to promote them or to give credibility to them, but rather to highlight the fact that a convicted ax murderer and his lawyers sought to justify or mitigate the circumstances of a brutal killing with such a defense. RFE/RL in no way suggests that those allegations are true. Thanks for your comment.
In Response

by: Mark from: New York
September 01, 2012 17:03
Andy, then at the very least you should also convey that all of Safarov's assertions, without exception, were disproved during the trail. Why is there no mention of that? You give credence to his lies without properly acknowledging that the court itself struck them as anything but true.
In Response

by: Tem
September 01, 2012 17:49
Andy,
While as a journalist I am sure you are aware of the power of language to shape perceptions, you seem to be ignoring this. I am sure you know that in the art of writing, it does not really count what you (most kindly perhaps) 'intended' to communicate, but HOW your text is actually being READ by most people (especially those who are not much informed about the topic). And indeed, due to the organisation of paragraphs, the inclusion of certain facts and omission of others, your article sends out the message that somehow a) the murderer had good reasons, or simply had a breakdown because of the humiliation, the 'poor' guy, and that b) the justifications heard in court were indeed substantiated.
Sadly, I see similar casual, or intentionally misrepresenting, style of writing on many other websites, often simply copy-catting each other. I had different expectations from RFERL. To stand out, I call on you to edit this text.
In Response

by: Grigor from: USA
September 01, 2012 19:20
Hello Minas

Perhaps RFE references the justifications of lawyers, however, the court hearing was very clear that the murder was not motivated by personal conflict between the two, therefore, it was a hate crime. I do not see much of relevance to remember the efforts of lawyers justifying their client, which was not proven truthful by court. I do understand that you are trying to show both sides of the story, yet there is no need to go back to the discussions on what was the motive for murder. The Hungarian court had a vigilant scrutiny of all circumstances already.
In Response

by: To Andy
September 01, 2012 19:50
Well, Andy then it looks like that you are suggesting that these are NOT true. There were provocations and it is totally unsubstantiated slander that Safarov killed the Armenian officer while he was sleeping. If you mean to be neutral, stick to the facts at least.
In Response

by: An Armenian
September 01, 2012 21:44
Did RFE/RL look into whether the accusations of insults by the Armenian officer were backed up in court?
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
September 02, 2012 00:45
Hi.Andy and lo,who was the glorious author of the title `Armenians see red...`for the initial story on the pardon of azeristan`s latest `national` ``hero``??? It doesnt matter who ,but what`s the suggestion of this title???Armenians have seen a lot of red in their history and they will see a lot more till they see justice done and you coul have been a bit more sensitive while writing on the subject.
In Response

by: Kristine
September 02, 2012 01:56
Hi Andy,
So why haven't you mentioned in the article that the investigation found no single evidence that would support those 'justifications'? This would be much more professional. Why there was no single word that Safarov struck sleeping Margarian 16 times with an axe, almost decapitating him and then walked over to another Armenian officer’s room, hoping to commit a second murder? You, guys pick the facts you want to highlight, and that's called politics.
In Response

by: Khachatur from: France
September 02, 2012 13:42
Hi Andy.
In relation to your reply to the comment of Minas, I would like to tell you the following:
I do understand that you, as a journalist, seek not to make your report one-sided, but to involve an opinion or position of the other party or parties. But you should be careful in doing that since what you intend to write about may not always be perceived correctly by a common reader due to the logical construction of the report.
In particular, the allegation that the slain Armenian officer urinated on the Azeri flag may be considered, in theory, as a mitigating circumstance, showing the motive of the felony, but not yet be sufficient for justifying such a brutal atrocity as killing with an axe a sleeping person. Therefore, when one reads your article, an impression is being created that the above allegation of the defence was, at least, not denied but, nonetheless, did not serve to justify the actions of the murderer Azeri officer. However, that was not the case since during the trial that allegation, as well as all the similar allegations of the defence were deeply scrutinised by the trial court and dismissed as unsubstantiated.
In such circumstances, and I believe that any person dealing with law will agree with me, it was really sensible and necessary for you to add that that allegation was dismissed, that no such motive was proved. Otherwise, by mentioning that allegation of the denfence, and in the absence of any indication of the fact that it was dismissed by the trial court, there creates an impression that that was really the case and that that allegation was true.
Consequently, for those who know the case, your report cannot be create indignation and astonishment because it conveys a WRONG message to a common reader. And this cannot be justified by the need to diversify the information.
My regards.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
September 03, 2012 05:14
As legal matter, Andy, the first question is of international law.
If such case, or case of ethnic Russian, the Ukrain's Citizen,
Markisev, accused or convicted, may ask citizenship country
To apply for extradition - to change venue of the trial or prison.
It had be applied here - tried or appealed by an Azerbaijan law.

For some reason all got emotional. Desecrated Armenian flag?
If he did - how did Armenian and Azerbaijani ended-up together,
Even if Armenians brought with them forged flag from Karabah?
If he did kill him in his bed - how did they get in the same dyper?
If he guilty, part of his crime wasn't race hate but the war anger.

Details of crime are not that important - probably Rashka setup,
As long as we are not given true details here, but venue legality,
That might be accaptable, if handled through the court systems.
Is Hungary affraid be anti-Armenian? Or anti-Russia - gas-oility?
Or anti-Azerbaijan, if Russia cut oil? Was Aliev setup, Eugenio?

I remember one, not unlike you, telling jocks about Azerbaijanis.
Being in pasion, judge said: "You free, hero! You are innocent!"
And now some Russian telepaths made Aliev to go into pasion.
Why they at first wouldn't use all international traditional moves?
Officers of war, one killed, served 8 years - appeal by your law!
In Response

by: Mani
September 01, 2012 16:16
Don't you know that RFERL is the official tool of American propaganda inside Europe since the days of the Cold War? What else do you expect from suck lowlifes. Imagine if the dead officer was a JEW and the killer a Jew hater... The world wide news and governments would have cut off their relations with Hungary and Azerbaijan.
In Response

by: John from: london
September 03, 2012 00:47
Everyone has a right to be heard. Here is how Ramil described what happened:

Here he met two other officers from Armenia, Gurgen Margaryan and Ayk Makuchyan, who for three months were verbally mocking him, publicly humiliating, calling his country "a Baranyorszag" ("Baranstan"), calling the Azerbaijani army a "bunch of sheep", "losers", etc. Literally provoking him.

On the 12th anniversary of the Khojaly genocide, when the Armenian military slaughtered 613 Azeri refugees fleeing from Khojaly, mostly women and children, the two Armenian officers went to a restaurant to "celebrate" this date. This date is a day of mourning in Azerbaijan. The Khojaly massacre is known as "the Azerbaijani Srebrenica".

When they returned, they were semi-drunk. They again started throwing provocative remarks towards Ramil (publicly, in front of the other classmates), who had never for the past three months responded to such provocations and always swallowed all the insults. The two officers said: "today we celebrated the anniversary of the killing of your animals" and then they took out the Azerbaijani flag from their pocket and wiped off their shoes (by the way, having the Azerbaijani flag in the pockets means that they well prepared for their provocations, otherwise what is the Azerbaijani flag doing in the pocket of the Armenian officers?).

This was the last drop! Gurgen Margaryan was NOT his primary prey, he wanted to finish the other guy, Ayk, who was most aggressive (and who actually survived and safely escaped to Armenia). When Ayk saw Ramil coming towards him with the axe in his hand, he rushed into his room and locked the door. So, he was NOT asleep! He locked the door and was afraid to open it. Ramil couldn't break Ayk's door and told him "you will not get away, I will return soon after you" and went to kill the other guy, Gurgen, who happened to be sleeping that moment. It is a propaganda myth that Ramil killed him while asleep. By the time of murder, Gurgen already woke up, he was awake. After killing Gurgen, Ramil returned to Ayk's room trying to break it. And that's when he was detained.
In Response

by: CanadianBoy from: Ottawa
September 03, 2012 06:43
Interesting testimony that is very different from most sources.
Do you have a verifiable link about this?
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
September 03, 2012 10:57
Yes.canadian boy,Kyor-oglu from `london`,posing as john has a very reliable source to back his most original blah blah blahs-its the official azeri kurdish kgb site Allahtan-AliBabalyIlhanbaran.666.com,and the same result of talking turkey comes from the abuse of the company`s liquor,coupled with over-eating of pork,pilaf and the left-overs from Ilham`s table.Never knowing when his next meal will be the poor guy has stuffed himself senseless as you can see the result from his glorious posts.Lets pray for his soul knowing very well he hasnt got one.Allah Akbar,azeri kgb-even more akbar!!!
In Response

by: Lina from: USA
September 05, 2012 03:02
You know what John, lets pretend that Armenian officers were bad and they assulted that RAT safarov, but that does not give that retard a right to kill. Can you imagine 16 times with axe??? That is not a joke!!!! safarov is a RAT, a DIRTY freaken crazy IDIOT, just like the people who support him!!!!!!!

by: Armen from: US
September 01, 2012 15:43
and this country hosted euro vision. if money is going to buy your country then shame on Hungary.

by: Al from: FR
September 01, 2012 15:51
Do you know why no media reports, show, or or talk about the poor killed Armenian soldier and his family? Why NATO does not issue a public statement to the media to condemn the release of the murderer? Because they are morally bankrupt. All they see is dollar signs.

by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, NV USA
September 01, 2012 15:59
Azeris got themselves a murderer as a hero!
Poor Armenian officer! He was not awake and he did not have weapons in his bed to defend himself!
Hungary does not surprise me! She has a very long anti Semitic
history! After all, in 1944, they sent Budapest Jews to Auschwitz to be murdered.
In Response

by: Down with "Hay dat"! from: SHUSHA
September 02, 2012 15:30
You Armenians consider the bloody murderers and terrorists as national heroes. You teach your kids in the schools to be like andronik and njdeh, who killed thousands of innocent Azerbaijanis in early 20th century , you made terrorist Monte Melkonyan, who a national hero; your leadership consisting of Kocharyan, Sarkisyan and Ohanyan are all war criminals who have their hands full of blood of the innocent Khojaly victims. And you have guts to accuse Azerbaijanis and back up your propaganda by using anti-semitism as an argument?! Poor you!.. You people are sick and I am sick of your sickness!
In Response

by: Mani
September 02, 2012 20:50
You have your history backwards. Go ask any independent researcher or historian about the mass deportations, massacres and Genocide that Armenians endured at the hands of barbarian Turks and Azeris like you. I am glad that you are SICK for you come from a SICK nation, full of fascist SICK mentality and racist thugs who kill people at international circles while they go to sleep. If you want to see war criminals see, Talat, Enver, Halim, Jemal, Khan Khoyski, Khan Javanshir, Aliyev Sr. Aliyev Jr, Huseinov, and thousnads of murderers who killed more than 35,000 Armenians between 1918-1920 and 10,000 between 1988 and 1994. Do not try to throw your DIRTY clothes on us, for the Whole world knows who were the victims of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides between 1918 and 1923, you thug.
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
September 03, 2012 10:46
Yes dear azeri kgb baran,you are sick,that is evident,and true ,the rest of your post is plain azeri BS or just talking turkey.

by: Anonymous
September 01, 2012 16:45
The information provided regarding Nagorno Karabakh is incorrect. Nagorno Karabakh is ethnically not an Armenian territory. Please check and make necessary changes.
In Response

by: Al from: Fr
September 02, 2012 08:32
Nagorno Karabakh was and is more or less 99 percent Armenian, there are some nice Azeris left and they are welcome. The others just went back home to benefit from the newly flowing oil revenues. But seems like they are now very disappointed.
In Response

by: Anonymous
September 02, 2012 14:05
Yes, they just went "back home". Who do you think you are fooling? Azerbaijanis in Karabakh and hundreds of thousands more were systematically cleansed from their ancestoral lands in Karabakh and surrounding regions. Karabakh was never fully Armenian until these genocidal actions by Armenia backed by Russia.

by: vk from: Hungary
September 01, 2012 16:55
To the Armenian People.

We, the conscientious citizens of Hungary, would like to express our solidarity and sympathy with you, in your sorrow and outrage on the release of Safarov, the killer of your fellow Armenian.

We fiercely condemnn this outrageous act of the Hungarian Government and Prime Minister Orbán..

Please bear on mind, however, that the Hungarian Government and Prime Minister Orbán are not the Hungarian People. The friendship of the Armenian and Hungarian peoples goes back to centuries.

This scanadalous act of the Government must not harm the friendship of the two peoples.

Armenian readers! Please translate this and post it in Armenia.
In Response

by: Kristine
September 02, 2012 18:02
Thank you vk, this kind of messages from Hungarian people are much appreciated.

by: Alec from: USA
September 01, 2012 17:11
How the nation-state of Azerbaijan (a 20th century creation) can purport to have European aspirations is beyond human comprehension. This is not just another banal dictatorship... this is a sick nation, where a cold-blooded killer can be elevated to national hero.

This is nothing less than a crime against humanity. Something must be done.

by: HartRay
September 01, 2012 19:40
This sad story is telling us, now is the time for recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia, EU and US.
Now you know why Armenian fight a bloody war with these savages. If in a country, ax killing of another human being in his sleep, during a partnership for PEACE program make you a HERO and you get promoted to ranking of major!!

by: Yaqub from: Izmir, Turkey
September 01, 2012 21:23
As a Turk I dont support the pardon of this guy but remember that several years ago Italy released the infamous Samvel Babayan. This guy had nailed a 10-year old kid to the wall and skinned him alive and was so proud of it he wrote a book about it.
In Response

by: Citizen of Globe from: England
September 04, 2012 22:26
'Yaqub' from Turkey,
Total bonkers! Have you been paid to make up obscene stories on the net?! The only time Samvel has been arrested has been at home, not in Italy, and for internal reasons... Besides, Samvel is NOT a hero and an example to the young and old, neither in Karabakh nor in Armenia. So your ridiculous claim is not only lacking evidence, but is contrary to the wretched point of a comparison you are trying to make there!

by: My two cents from: Russia
September 01, 2012 21:46
Ramil Safarov has committed a crime of murder - he confessed, was sentenced and spent over 8 years in prison for what he did. But Gurgen Markaryan also deserved his death by insulting Azerbaijani flag in front of Safarov. By his actions, the Armenian officer left Safarov no option but to resort to the crime that he committed. The motives of Safarov's crime may not legally justify him for what he did, but before jumping into conclusions and alluding yourself to Armenian propaganda, which tries to use Safarov case to demonise the whole Azerbaijani nation, every sensible man should take into account the factors which led him to kill Markaryan.
In Response

by: VH from: USA
September 02, 2012 06:42
No one deserves to die for insulting a flag.
In Response

by: Al from: Fr
September 02, 2012 08:36
Never mind the guy with two cents. He doesn't even have one cent for making that comment. Saying someone deserved to be hacked to death in sleep because insulted a flag is simply stupid.
In Response

by: Kate
September 02, 2012 20:53
He never insulted the Azeri flag. That is written in the first interrogation and it was a made up lie, and even (let's suppose) that he did it, do you hack someone to death for a word? Shame on you Azeris, you are such uncivilized barbarians, and btw I am not Armenian, I am a full Canadian.
In Response

by: J from: US
September 03, 2012 19:16
Yo, 2 kopieks, nobody deserves death penalty for 'insulting a flag' especially the one in question
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