Armenia: Remembering the Budapest Murder

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of 26-year old Gurgen Margarian, an Armenian officer attending a NATO Partnership for Peace program in Budapest, Hungary. Killed in his sleep with an axe wielded by his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ramil Safarov, Margarian is commemorated by special posts made by some Armenian bloggers.

A slideshow of the February 19, 2009 commemoration in Yerevan, Armenia

Considered a hero by many in Azerbaijan because of the bitter war over the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh, many Armenians instead argue that Safarov's act proves the two peoples can never live side by side again. Posting a commemorative banner with Margarian’s face, Noni-no reflects on the incident.

Any time I see this face I shudder. I shudder to realize the fact that this guy was murdered in such brutality and by a cold-blooded animal.

One wants to speak out, to say how one feels, but the words are really not enough….


517 Design [RU] posts photographs from the official commemoration held in Yerevan and comments on attempts by some Azeris to turn the killer into a hero.

Сегодня Рамиль Сафаров сидит с пожизненнымм сроком в Будапеште…. На родине у себя его успешно возвели в ранг национального героя за то что тот убил армянина. Поиск дать если в сети «Рамиль Сафаров», дает огромное колличество сайтов, видео на ютюбе призывающих либо освободить его вовсе, либо же экстрадировать в Баку, где естественно тот будет незамедлительно отпущен на свободу…

Today Ramil Safarov sits in life-term in Budapest…. In his homeland, he has successfully made himself to the rank of a national hero for having killed an Armenian. A search of “Ramil Safarov” brings a huge number of [Azerbaijani] sites and YouTube videos calling for [Safarov’s] release or repatriation to [Azerbaijan’s capital] Baku, where he would naturally be immediately set free [….]

Although some prominent Azeris spoke out against attempts to glorify Safarov, and while the authorities in Baku did disperse and prevent small rallies in his support, Kevork quotes from some of those who didn't.

[…] A drafted soldier or a committed volunteer fighter is different from an insane “patriot”, who [Azerbaijan officer Ramil Safarov] makes his way to Budapest, to find the Tesco supermarket for one reason only: “I feel sorry that I haven’t killed any Armenian” and put as simple as: “The only motivation for me for fight against Armenians and to kill as many as possible in the fight”.

[…] such people as the ones responcible for Human Rights issues from safarov's home republic declare : “r. safarov must become an example of patriotism for the Azerbaijani youth.” Elmira Suleymanova, the Ombudswoman of Azerbaijan.

[…] Let alone interesting literary characters such as Agshin Mehdiyev, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe with his wise advise to the infidel Armenians, the guy: “does not advise Armenians to sleep safely until the Karabakh conflict is settled. Incidents like in Budapest cannot be ruled out.”

I am not sure that every single person from Azerbaijan could or would do the same and I am also not sure it is impossible to find someone in Armenia who would do so too. What I want to be sure about is that the society in the neighboring state does not accept this rotten food of the state-run policy of kill them, because then you get … I dont really know what exactly they get. […]

Rest in peace, Gurgen.


  • Hayk

    I can’t imagine killing a person while he is sleeping…

  • I think the most important point made in this post comes from Kevork:

    I am not sure that every single person from Azerbaijan could or would do the same and I am also not sure it is impossible to find someone in Armenia who would do so too. What I want to be sure about is that the society in the neighboring state does not accept this rotten food of the state-run policy of kill them, because then you get … I dont really know what exactly they get. […]

    Unfortunately, the nationalists are becoming more active here and have the sole intention of perpetuating hatred towards Azerbaijanis and Georgians.

    Rumors are now circulating that they have an orchestrated campaign to use blogs to achieve this purpose too. Some also that they are being paid, but I have no idea if that part is true or not.

    Meanwhile, I wonder if the first two posts actually were remembering Gurgen Margarian or simply using his death to achieve that purpose. This is unfortunately how such memorials are used in both countries.

    For example, its interesting to note that most of those lamenting Margarian’s death never do the same when it comes to the savage murder of dozens of Armenians in Russia. Of course, the reason is that they are also pro-Russian.

    Anyway, we need an end to the message of hate from nationalists on both sides, and we urgently need peace before it is too late. Remembering Margarian, the pogroms of Armenians in Baku, or the massacre of Azerbaijani civilians in Khodjali should be with that aim.

    End ethnic nationalism and hatred in ALL three countries of the South Caucasus — and sooner rather than later.

  • Elvin

    Most Azerbaijani people were shocked when they heard news about this tragedy. This is not good to kill person while he sleeps, but if not to take into account what “gurgen margarian” said and acted very unethical and agressive towards Ramil Safarov to irritate him.
    I don’t wonder if gurgen irritated him with phrases like: “We did a good job of killing azeris in Kharabakh, burning kids in houses, taking out baby with knife from pregnant women, f****ing the girls, etc”. Ramil was in perfect mental and physical standing and no one with such a characteristics just would kill a person for nothing. Gurgen violated his feelings and doing the thing with Azeri flag. Sorry, I am not pleased the work done by Ramil, but I think gurgen deserved it.
    Hayko, may be you cannot imagine, but your ancestors very well imagined when killed people in Khojaly (Khojaly massacre) and Azeris in many other territories of Azerbaijan. I wouldn’t to call the facts to remember of killing of many muslims, Turks in the Ottomon Empire and terrorist attacks to many Turkish and Azerbaijani civilians carried out by some well known armenian terrorist groups.

  • Elvin,

    I wouldn’t condone the murder of anyone under any circumstances. However, just as Kevork stated, he doesn’t imply that all Azeris were supportive of the act and nor does he deny that it’s possible an Armenian might also do the same. As during the war, atrocities were committed by both sides.

    The other night, for example, a Diaspora Armenian friend told me with horror how an Armenian military commander recently boasted to visiting foreign Armenians over dinner that his men had gang-raped a young Azerbaijani woman before inserting a grenade into her vagina. For me and most people, that’s as disgusting as any other inhuman act.

    One supposes that the Azeri woman didn’t taunt him and the fact that it was war-time is also no defense. Unfortunately, while there is lots of misinformation and propaganda coming from both sides about atrocities during the war, they did of course happen. It would be interesting to hear whether our nationalist bloggers in Armenia consider this commander a “hero,” for example.

    Probably, like Khodjali, they would deny it even though he was the one telling Armenians from the Diaspora about the “brave heroic acts” of his soldiers. Meanwhile, organized and allegedly financed to spread pro-Armenian propaganda, they say nothing about the deaths of 10 people during the post-election clashes in Yerevan or the continued detention of opposition activists.

    Probably that’s not a surprise because their intent is not to push for the rights of Armenians, but to lash out and ferment hatred for Azerbaijanis, Georgians and Turks. I also agree that none of these blogs set the precise circumstances surrounding Margarian’s murder although once again, the act was deplorable and should not be commended.

    However, just as some Azerbaijanis seek to turn such people into heroes, Armenians do as well. Everything is seen in black and white and framed in the context of ethnic hatred. Meanwhile, those moderate voices which do exist are drowned out and objectivity or informed discussion and reporting is suppressed on a daily basis.

    I had hoped that blogs could provide the forum for that, but the surge in coordinated activity in Armenia among nationalist pro-government bloggers is intended to achieve the opposite. Moreover, their intention is to encourage nationalist and racist attitudes among Armenians by disseminating subjective and often inaccurate information.

    The same group of nationalist bloggers have their sights set on Georgia and Turkey as well and the aim is to support their territorial claims in each country. The situation is very depressing indeed. Instead, as with Margarian, or the Azeri woman I mentioned above, or Baku, Sumgait, Khodjali, it’s time such malicious and racist attitudes were stamped out.

    Certainly, as I know which blogs are part of this coordinated campaign to indoctrinate rather than discuss, stir up nationalist hatred rather than inform or even remember, as Caucasus Editor I will now be even more cautious when dealing with them. This doesn’t mean censorship, but it does mean they should be identified as such (as I did with their recent anti-Georgian protest in Yerevan) and a variety of views represented.

    Meanwhile, for all their apparent “support” of Armenian rights, the same bloggers are noticeably silent about human rights abuses in Armenia and more significantly, about scores of murders of ethnic Armenians in Russia, their traditional ally in the former Soviet space. Instead, they just agitate for renewed conflict with Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and pretty much anyone else for that matter.

    For now, I cannot consider these blogs as a genuine part of the Armenian blogosphere. They were recently set up to instead support the government and attempt to discredit the international community’s concerns with democratization and human rights protection here while also seeking to perpetuate ethnic hatreds in order to justify new separatist movements or territorial ambitions.

    Meanwhile, it’s interesting to note that NONE of the other most well-known Armenian blogs covered this anniversary at all. I also hope they continue to push for balanced, objective information and discussion rather than hate and a nationalist agenda which is precisely from the same roots as the counterparts they condemn in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

  • Oh, and I knew their next goal would be to spread misinformation and denial about Khodjali.

    I would consider them nationalist propagandists against any future peace.

    Others tell me they are also being financed, but there is no confirmation of that yet.

  • BTW: it just occured to me. If the argument is that Safarov is celebrated as a hero in Azerbaijan, why wasn’t that circulating on the Internet news sites and blogs by Azeris? It was nowhere from what I could see.

    Meanwhile, as a sign of how this misinformation has become treated as fact in Armenian circles, here’s something an Azeri friend just said to me over MSN after she read the post.

    it’s horrible. I am sorry. many people here said that he has done a really wrong thing. many were ashamed of him, and the prison is his place, I say it because of the citates.

    Again, apart from the post by Kevork, these nationalist blogs recently set up in Armenia are thoroughly discredited in my eyes. Interestingly, I’m meeting more moderate young Azeris than Armenians.

    Sad. We need proper communication and information from BOTH sides and not propaganda or misinformation designed to perpetuate ethnic hate and conflict.

  • Onnik, good points. But there is a “Free Ramil Safarov” Facebook group with 665 Azeri and Turkish members, and a similar, “Ramil Seferova Azadliq Isteyek!!!” Facebook group with 378 members. That’s over a 1,000 Internet, mostly Azeri, users openly justifying Safarov’s savage murder.

  • “Oh, and I knew their next goal would be to spread misinformation and denial about Khodjali.

    Can you prove that information there is misinformation?

  • Simon, there are over 150,000 Facebook users in Azerbaijan so 1,000 is quite a small number. Tigran, Khodjaly happened — as confirmed by Serge Sargsyan, Markar Melkonyan and Zori Balyan. Let’s simply end this nationalism that leads to mutual ethnic hatred and atrocity and strive for peace instead of war and conflict.

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