Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian – a former state assemblyman for the 43rd District – issued a letter Thursday expressing his “shock and anger” over Azerbaijan’s recent pardon of one of its own military officers, who was convicted of murdering an Armenian soldier in his sleep with an ax.

Krekorian, the first Armenian American elected to the L.A. City Council, attempted to deliver the letter to Azerbaijan’s consulate Thursday as hundreds of people protested outside, but was rebuffed.

The protest, organized by several Armenian organizations, came as tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan continued to deteriorate after Ramil Safarov was extradited last month from Hungary, where he was serving a life sentence for murdering Gurgen Markarian at a NATO military academy in 2004.

Upon returning home, Safarov was pardoned and reportedly promoted and provided with housing, paid for by the government, infuriating Armenian across the globe. Hungary has said it released Safarov after being assured by Azerbaijan that he would serve out his sentence in his native country.

But critics allege he was released in exchange for a multi-billion dollar bond purchase of Hungarian bonds by oil-rich Azerbaijan – an allegation that has been denied by both countries.

Armenia’s president has since threatened war amid protests at Azerbaijani and Hungarian consulates around the world.

In his letter, Krekorian called on Hungary to condemn Azerbaijan’s “horrific actions in freeing and lionizing this savage murderer.”

“As the descendant of Armenian immigrants who fled genocide, I am repulsed by the actions of the Azerbaijani government and I am stunned by Hungary's role in facilitating them,” he wrote.

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-- Jason Wells, Times Community News

Follow Jason Wells on Google+ and on Twitter: @JasonBretWells