Azerbaijan: Freedom and Fanfare for Killer of Armenian Army Officer
Has justice been served when the person who "practically" severs the head of a sleeping man with an axe can return home to a hero's welcome?
That's the question that comes to mind with the return to Azerbaijan of Lieutenant Ramil Safarov, who was serving a life sentence in Hungary for the brutal murder of 25-year-old Armenian Lieutenant Gurgen Margarian at a 2004 NATO training in Budapest.
Extradited from Hungary, Lt. Safarov is not only walking freely, but also taking bows in front of the cameras.
Upon arrival in Baku, he spoke of his sufferings “in a prison in a foreign land” and thanked Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev for pardoning him.
Armenia may be a bitter enemy and all for Azerbaijan, but the reaction to this murder, an act worthy of the Hostel horror film series, shows just how deeply seeded the raging propaganda against Armenia (and, in turn, Armenia's angry denunciations of Azerbaijan) has become in the minds of many. The gruesome crimes committed by Armenians against Azerbaijanis during the Nagorno-Karabakh war are cited as a justification of sorts for both Safarov’s acts and his release.
Not all Azerbaijanis agree that Safarov ranks as a national hero, but that detail, no doubt, will be lost on Yerevan as it debates a response to Safarov's release. The topic reportedly was on the agenda of an August 31 meeting of the National Security Council convened by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.
Meanwhile, as for 35--year-old Safarov, he's "ready to serve my country, my people again."
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
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