Russia deplored on Monday a pardon granted by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev to Azerbaijani army officer Ramil Safarov, saying that it will complicate a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Unlike the United States and the European Union, Moscow also explicitly slammed Hungary for extraditing the convicted murderer of an Armenian army lieutenant, Gurgen Markarian, to the Azerbaijani authorities.
“We believe that these actions by the Azerbaijani as well as Hungarian authorities run counter to efforts agreed upon at the international level and within the OSCE Minsk Group framework in the first instance and aimed at reducing tension in the region,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said in a statement.
Nikolay Bordyuzha, secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance of six ex-Soviet states, denounced Safarov’s release from prison in stronger terms. He said the move “runs counter to the norms of international law and calls into question the viability of the inter-state system of countering crime.”
“Nothing can justify this step taken for parochial political purposes,” Bordyuzha said in a statement. “Moreover, turning the criminal into a hero will only help to heighten the already high tension in the region.”
Armenia is a member of the CSTO along with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Azerbaijan, meanwhile, dismissed the Western and Russian criticism. Bahar Muradova, a deputy speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament, said it is based on “double standards.”
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov was reported to discuss the issue in a phone call with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. According to 1news.az, Mammadyarov said Baku is “bewildered” by the criticism of its actions voiced by Washington on Friday.