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ECHR finds Azerbaijan guilty in historic murder case of Armenian soldier

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European Court of Human Rights, ECHR, Azerbaijan, Armenia, murder of an Armenian officer, Ramil Safarov, Grugen Margaryan,

Azerbaijan violated two articles of the European Convention by pardoning officer of the Azerbaijani army, Ramil Safarov, accused of the brutal murder of an Armenian soldier Gurgen Margaryan.

Such a verdict was issued on May 26 by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

According to the court’s decision, Azerbaijan should pay the plaintiffs only compensation for legal expenses in the amount of 15,000 pounds. The plaintiffs in the case were the relatives of the victim and his colleague Hayk Makuchyan. They did not demand financial compensation for themselves.

“We sought justice, not compensation. The statement of the fact of serious crimes is important for us, it is important to put an end to impunity and prevent Armenian-phobia,” Hayk Makuchyan said.

The Safarov case

In January 2004, Senior Lieutenant Ramil Safarov, together with another officer from Azerbaijan, arrived in Budapest for a three-month English course organized by NATO. Two Armenian officers were in the same courses: Gurgen Margaryan and Hayk Makuchyan. All cadets lived in the hostel of the National Defense University.

In the early morning of February 19, Safarov entered Margaryan’s room and killed him with an ax, inflicting 16 blows to the head and neck. Following this, he was going to kill Makuchyan, but the door of his room was locked, and the police arrived at the scene.

Safarov first explained his deed by the fact that, being from the Jabrail region (which, after the Karabakh war, is under the control of Armenia), he hates the Armenians. Later in court he said that Margaryan and Makuchyan scoffed and provoked him.

In 2006, a Hungarian court found Safarov guilty of aggravated murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment without the right to apply for pardon for 30 years.

Safarov served a total of eight years in a Hungarian prison. In 2012, Azerbaijan secured his extradition so that he could serve the rest of his term in his homeland.

But immediately upon arrival in Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev pardoned Safarov. In addition, he was promoted to major and presented with an apartment.

This whole story caused an international scandal, and in Azerbaijan opinions about Safarov’s act were divided: some considered him a hero, others – a criminal who disgraced the country.

Decision of the European Court

The ECHR ruled that by pardoning Safarov (contrary to the sentence of a Hungarian court), Azerbaijan violated articles 2 and 14 of the European Convention on the right to life and the prohibition of discrimination. The ECHR also emphasized the “approval and support” of this crime by the Azerbaijani authorities.

But at the same time, the court did not recognize Azerbaijan as responsible for this crime itself.

The second defendant in the case was Hungary, for having extradited Safarov to Azerbaijan. But the ECHR did not find any violations in this.

The reaction to the court decision in Azerbaijan

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan believes that the court did not actually satisfy the main intention of Armenia, as it did not demand the cancellation of the decision on Safarov’s pardon and rejected the material claim for a substantial violation of the right to life article.

“According to the European Court, Ramil Safarov acted individually and did not represent the government of Azerbaijan. Thus, the Azerbaijani government cannot be held accountable internationally for these actions,” said Leila Abdullayeva, head of the press service of the ministry.

In addition, the ministry believes that the case should have reflected that “Ramil Safarov, born in August 1993 in the Azerbaijan’s Jabrail region, occupied by the Armenian armed forces, lost loved ones during the war, as a teenager he knew all the hardships of the life of an internally displaced person.”

There are no other official comments from the Azerbaijani authorities yet. Ramil Safarov himself also did not comment on the court decision.

As for experts, for example, the head of the National Center for Strategic Thinking, Isa Gambar, called the murder “an incident that happened between two specific people.”

“Thousands of Azerbaijani citizens around the world meet Armenian citizens, live in the same neighborhood, argue, or are silent, but very rarely one of them kills the other. This incident occurred not on ethnic grounds, but on emotional, in a state of passion.”

The leader of the opposition Republican Alternative Party (REAL) Ilgar Mammadov writes that:

“The state had to do everything in such a difficult situation to return its citizen to his homeland. And it did it. But Safarov’s heroization did not align with our national interests.”

Reaction to the court decision in Armenia

The decision of the European Court in the Margaryan case is being covered by all Armenian publications – almost as noticeable as the murder of the Armenian officer and the subsequent events.

The attitude to Safarov’s case in Armenia is unequivocal: the murderer of an unarmed person should be punished, instead he was pardoned and heroized.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs believe that if the European Court calls on Azerbaijan to re-arrest Safarov, this will be an important precedent in international law.

“Ideally, we would like the court to decide to transfer him back to Hungary or to a third country to serve his sentence, because in Azerbaijan he is considered a hero,” said lawyer Nazeli Vardanyan.

Overall, the verdict satisfies the plaintiffs and lawyers.

“The violation of the right to life and ethnically motivated actions were found. This is the first decision in history when an international court ascertains the anti-Armenian actions of Azerbaijan. As a result, they must be eliminated. Steps must also be taken to ensure that the offender is punished,” said lawyer Siranush Sahakyan.

Regarding further official steps, Armenia is considering the issue of appeal to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR on the issue of the responsibility of Hungary. Lawyers believe that it was precisely the steps of Budapest that allowed Azerbaijan to pardon the criminal.

Four years after the crime, in 2008, Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Gentz ​​was in Yerevan, and asked whether Safarov would be returned to Azerbaijan. She said:

“There is an opportunity to return Safarov, but Hungary does not have such an obligation. All issues relating to Safarov will be considered very seriously. The most important question is whether Safarov will serve a life sentence in Azerbaijan or not.”

Four years later, when the Hungarian authorities returned Safarov to their homeland, Armenia broke off diplomatic relations with Hungary.

The post ECHR finds Azerbaijan guilty in historic murder case of Armenian soldier appeared first on English Jamnews.

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World Nomad Games Moved To 2021 Due To Pandemic

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World Nomad Games Moved To 2021 Due To Pandemic

Turkish authorities have moved the Fourth World Nomad Games to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The games, an international competition dedicated to ethnic sports, were scheduled to be held in the Turkish city of Bursa in autumn this year.
The President of the Turkey-based World Ethnosport Confederation, Bilal Erdogan, said on July 9 that the decision was made after consultations with Turkey's Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Youth and Sports, and Health Ministry to prevent a surge in coronavirus cases.

Kyrgyzstan’s Hills Come Alive With The Sound Of Nomads
Photo Gallery:

Kyrgyzstan’s Hills Come Alive With The Sound Of Nomads

RFE/RL’s photographer was on hand to capture the hoof-thumping action as the mountain venue of Kyrgyzstan’s Nomad Games opened on September 3.

The World Nomad Games were initiated by Kyrgyzstan and held for the first time in the Central Asian nation in 2014.

The second and third World Nomad Games were also held in Kyrgyzstan's picturesque northern region of Issyk-Kul in 2016 and 2018.

The nomad games include horse racing, archery, mounted archery, falconry, and different types of wrestling, including wrestling from horseback.
The games have gained in popularity, prompting teams representing Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, the Philippines, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Russia, and even the United States to regularly attend the event.

The last World Nomad Games in 2018 hosted athletes from 66 countries, including several European nations, such as Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Ukraine.
This year, for the first time, the games were scheduled to be held outside of Kyrgyzstan.

With reporting by Anadolu, TRT Haber, and Yeni Safak

Read Original Article here by RFERL

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“Autumn will be even worse” – journalist’s letter criticizing gov’t response to pandemic causes stir in Azerbaijan

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TV presenter and blogger Azer Garib published an open letter on his Facebook page in which he accused the Azerbaijani authorities of taking an irresponsible attitude towards the coronavirus pandemic and criticised the deplorable state of the healthcare system.

Garib is indignant about the fact that the authorities are holding the public responsible for the continuing rise in coronavirus cases, saying that people simply aren’t complying with the quarantine requirements enough.

We’ve been under quarantine for four months, and we haven’t seen any progress.

People don’t believe the virus exists because they do not believe [the authorities].”

The post received a lot of support among the Azerbaijani population, and within a day, had received more than 16,000 likes and was re-published more than 8,000 times.

As of July 8, there are 21,374 reported coronavirus cases in Azerbaijan. Of these, 265 have died and 12,635 have recovered. For several months now, the country has been under an almost constant strict quarantine regime, with only a few breaks. Shopping centers are closed and the metro has stopped running. Public transport is shut down on the weekends, and most businesses are closed. One of the main restrictions is on movement. People are required to stay at home, and can only go out for two hours a day, and only after receiving special SMS permission from the authorities.

It will be worse in autumn

Azer Garib wrote the open letter in response to statements made at the most recent press briefing by representatives of TƏBİB, the official structure responsible for combating the coronavirus pandemic in Azerbaijan.

In particular, they reported that in other countries, and not just in Azerbaijan, the situation is deteriorating again and there is a rise in coronavirus cases. Therefore, the strict quarantine is justified. Moreover, it was reported that the situation may get even worse in the autumn.

What does this warning mean, that the situation will get worse? Then why are we suffering, what’s the point of the quarantine?” writes Azer Garib.

Scientists all over the world are literally shouting that people need vitamin D. And we, who live in a city by the sea, are locked in our homes. Yes, the doctors are right: in autumn, it will be even worse, because now, people are deprived of the sun, sea air, and don’t have the opportunity to strengthen their immune system, which will hurt them enormously in the autumn.”

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Garib asked the Coronavirus Operational Headquarters talk about other countries that were successful in combating the pandemic.

Why don’t you tell us about Georgia? Why don’t you tell us that Britain, which introduced quarantine later than other countries, has already lifted their strict quarantine? Why don’t you comment on the example of Belarus?”

Azer Garib said the quarantine regime that has been implemented in Azerbaijan for the last four months was like “a game of roulette.”

“Let’s close the subway. No, let’s open the subway. Let’s set up [police] posts. No, let’s remove the posts. Let people out of the house. No, lock people in their homes. Why has it been impossible to coordinate between the various government institutions over the past four months in order to develop a unified policy?” the journalist writes.

Doctors should educate the population. They must explain that even if you get sick with a coronavirus, this does not mean that you will die from it,” the journalist writes.

Instead of accusing people of not complying with quarantine, it is better to give them hope that the measures taken by the government will lead to an improvement in the situation, because then, they will adopt them, the letter says.

The post “Autumn will be even worse” – journalist’s letter criticizing gov’t response to pandemic causes stir in Azerbaijan appeared first on English Jamnews.

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials arrested in Azerbaijan for bribery, embezzlement – claim they were ‘helping ministry’

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A number of high-ranking officials in the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry have been arrested as a result of an anti-corruption operation.

Farhad Mollazade, chairman of the Foreign Ministry’s tender commission, Salim Alizadeh, head of economic affairs department, and Nurupasha Abdullayev, head of the legal section of the Consular Department, were arrested on July 3 for bribe taking, the State Security Service of Azerbaijan reports.

According to the State Security Service, Mollazade and Alizade are suspected of having appropriated money allocated for various structures in the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.

In addition, “when purchasing certain goods, the suspects demanded business owners transfer them a sum of the total amount in the form of a bribe.”

The houses of the suspects have been searched and documents found attesting to the bribes and the money received for their ‘work.’

A criminal case has been opened against Farhad Mollazade and Salim Alizadeh under the articles “abuse of official position”, “embezzlement” and “bribery”, while Nurupasha Abdullayev faces bribery charges.

The detainees have already confessed their crimes on camera. In a video circulated in the media, they spoke in detail about their actions.

Elkhan Шахahinoglu is a political scientist, head of the Atlas Research Center, writes on his Facebook page, quoting from Farhad Mollazade’s confessions:

“‘They gave money to Salim, and he brought the money to me. I kept 10 percent for myself and gave 10 percent to Salim. We spent the rest on solving the problems of the ministry.’

“This is the statement by Farhad Mollazade, Head of Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was caught taking bribes. The last sentence means that the Foreign Ministry, it turns out, was solving its problems through bribes. Wow! What is going on in the ministry that represents Azerbaijan in the world? And instead of resigning, Elmar Mammadyarov [ed. the head of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry] is holding an online conference today with some European organization.”

The post Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials arrested in Azerbaijan for bribery, embezzlement – claim they were ‘helping ministry’ appeared first on English Jamnews.

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