Armenian Headhunt for Azerbaijani Axe-Murderer?
As tensions continue to boil between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the pardon of convicted axe-murderer Ramil Safarov, a poster campaign has popped up in Yerevan calling on passers-by to hunt the Azerbaijani army officer down.
Safarov, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in Hungary for the 2004 beheading of Armenian army Lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan at a NATO training program in Budapest, was extradited to and freed in Azerbaijan last month, causing shock and anger in Armenia.
Photos depicting Yerevan city buses bearing posters announcing an “Open Season for Safarov Hunting” are making the rounds online. The posters reportedly appear in various places throughout the city.
Yerevan certainly has upped the war rhetoric against Baku since Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's August 31 pardon of Safarov, but no official has called publicly for taking Safarov out in a Mossad-style operation. It is unclear who is behind the “hunting” campaign, but any potential attempt to assassinate Safarov could, arguably, push the situation over the edge. (International expressions of concern, to date, appear to have had little visible effect.)
Some Armenian commentators say that the poster campaign is just a way for many citizens to vent their anger about the pardon, but, given the relentless propaganda campaigns on both sides, there can always be someone who opts to take the calls to exterminate the enemy literally. Safarov is walking proof of that.
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
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