YEREVAN, September 3. /ARKA/. Russia on Monday expressed concerns over Azerbaijan’s decision to pardon Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani army Lt. convicted by a Hungarian court to life in prison for killing an Armenian colleague. Hungary had sent him back to Azerbaijan to serve his prison sentence where he was pardoned by Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev.
Lt. Ramil Safarov was given a life sentence in 2006 by a Hungarian court after he confessed to killing Lt. Gurgen Markarian, an Armenian, while both were in Hungary for a 2004 NATO language course.
Azerbaijan’s president pardoned and freed Safarov after he was returned home on Friday, prompting Armenia to break off diplomatic ties with Hungary.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned Safarov’s release in a statement Monday, saying that it hampers Russia and other international mediators’ peace-keeping efforts.
“We believe that these actions of Azerbaijani as well as Hungarian authorities contradict internationally brokered efforts, of the OSCE’s Minsk group in particular, to ease tensions in the region,” the ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
“We’ll be expecting OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs’ assessment of the situation in near future,” the statement said.
Azerbaijani defense minister Safar Abiyev has promoted Ramil Safarov from the rank of Lieutenant to Major, a day after the latter was extradited to Azerbaijan from Hungary and received a pardon from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Abiyev also awarded Safarov over eight years’ worth of salary for the time he spent in a Hungarian prison, and gifted him with an apartment. -0-