Overboard: Russian citizen was denied boarding Azeri airliner because of his Armenian surname

Popular Russian radio and TV anchor, journalist Vladimir Solovyov declared a few days ago that the Azeri authorities’ attitude towards Armenians has nothing to de with their citizenship, but is pure manifestation of racism, just as Nazis treated the Jews at the time.

“Even one drop of Armenian blood to them is a subject of wild, inhuman, I would even say, beastly, hatred. To me as a Jew that hatred outright reminds of the tragedy of my nation and the Holocaust,” Solovyov stressed.

What triggered this response and agitated certain layers of Russian society was an incident when Russian citizen Sergey Gyurjian, head of export sales at AutoVaz Russian automobile manufacturer, was not allowed to take a Moscow-Baku flight operated by AZAL Azeri air company because of his Armenian surname. (A Russian citizen, born in Moscow, Gurjian was flying to Azerbaijan to take part in the opening ceremony of an AutoVaz affiliate there.)

Gyurjyan claims that at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport AZAL company employee Svetlana Rodionova refused to check him in, explaining it by the company administration instruction not to check-in passengers with Armenian surnames. “That’s the instruction, it’s a security issue,” Gyurjian quoted Ilgar Aliyev, representative of Azeri Airlines.

Moscow-based Kommersant, Russian daily online, reports that the incident with Russian citizens has reached the Russian president’s administration. Assistant to the President Arkady Dvorkovich qualified the incident in his Twitter as “outrage”.

Addressing “our dear Azeri friends,” Solovyov commented: “It is not an Armenian that you have insulted, but the Russian Federation and each and every citizen of the Russian Federation, regardless of their ethnic, national, religious and other roots.”

Addressing Azeri immigrants in Russia, he said: “You, who have come here in great numbers and are spitting on our culture, have you lost your senses? You now feel entitled to openly discriminate against Russian citizens in the territory of the Russian Federation? What do you think you are doing?”

Vice President of Russian Union of Travel Industry Yuri Borzykin believes that incident was a “single instance”. However, he said, that during their scheduled visit to Baku and negotiations with their partners over further cooperation prospects, the union representatives will inquire into the peculiarities of Russian citizens’ visits to Azerbaijan.