Armenians Burn Hungary Flags in Protest over Killer's Return

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Hundreds protested outside the Hungarian consulate in Yerevan on Saturday after Budapest sent a soldier who murdered an Armenian back to his native Azerbaijan, where he was immediately pardoned.

Several hundred angry demonstrators burned the Hungarian flag and threw eggs, tomatoes and coins, accusing Budapest of doing a deal with Baku in order to profit from Azerbaijan's energy riches.

"The Hungarians have sold their honor and conscience to the Azerbaijanis like a common prostitute," protest organizer Armen Mkrtchian told AFP.

Yerevan on Friday cut diplomatic ties with Hungary, which Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said had made a "grave mistake" in extraditing the killer, who axed his victim to death in Budapest in 2004.

U.S. President Barack Obama also said he was "deeply concerned" about the pardon.

Azerbaijani lieutenant Ramil Safarov was jailed for life after hacking Armenian officer Gurgen Margarian to death at a military academy in Budapest where the servicemen were attending English-language courses organized by NATO.

Safarov claimed that Margarian had insulted Azerbaijan, which fought a brutal war with Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorny Karabakh in the 1990s.

In another move that will infuriate Armenia, Azerbaijan on Saturday reinstated Safarov to the army and promoted him to the rank of major.

"Defense Minister Safar Abiyev received him, handed him his new rank and wished him success in his future military service," a Defense Ministry statement said.

Azerbaijan also hit back at U.S. criticism, insisting that the pardon awarded Safarov after he had served eight years of his sentence confirmed with a European legal convention on extradition.

Armenia-backed separatists seized Nagorny Karabakh from Azerbaijan in the war that left some 30,000 people dead.

The two sides have not signed a final peace deal since the 1994 ceasefire and there are still regular firefights along the Karabakh frontline.

Comments 2
Default-user-icon Armen Urneshlian (Guest) 01 September 2012, 19:04

And these so called civilized western countries continue speaking about justice, values, human rights etc. etc. All these meaningless words are written in petrol rather then ink. Now they are rewriting it with the blood of the 16 times axed sleeping Armenian soldier.
And the cynicism of the Azerbaijani Sultan: pardoning the murderer and giving him a hero's welcome.
Please AFP, read history before writing lies like "Armenian separatists seized Nagorno Karabakh from Azerbaijan...". NG or Artsakh has always been a part of Armenia since the dawn of civilization in the Caucasus. Your falsification of History indirectly encourages the axing of more people.

Default-user-icon Taleen (Guest) 01 September 2012, 19:43

RAMSHIDOV - Hey, listen, I have got a good idea, I am so enthusiastic with this!!!

GOATMIZOV - Hey, tell me right now what you have, I am so curious about....

RAMSHIDOV - Let's go to Hungary to axe some armenians there..

GOATMIZOV - Hmm, sounds attractive, we will become heroes!! But why in Hungary??

RAMSHIDOV - Because Karabakh is protected now, so it is necessary to find them somewhere else.
And plus, our President is very nice, he will buy us back to home from there, you must not worry about ;)

GOATMIZOV - Ok, let's go then!