January 21, 2020 - 11:55 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Two musicians named Aphik Novruzov and Anas Askerov claim that the Azerbaijani Embassy's first secretary verbally and physically attacked them for singing a song by a Russia-based ethnic Armenian performer during a boozy Old New Year's celebration at a restaurant in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, on January 14, RFE/RL reports.
The diplomat, Vugar Mustafayev, loudly berated a post-Soviet pop singer's Russian-language song as "Armenian music" before the fisticuffs started, they said.
Police and paramedics were called to the scene at Tbilisi's Qabala Basket Azeri restaurant, though no injuries were reported.
Mustafayev, who has diplomatic immunity, admitted to RFE/RL's Georgian Service that he was involved in a fracas on January 14 but said the musicians insulted him. He declined to offer a detailed account of the incident and referred specific questions to the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tbilisi, which did not respond to phone calls.
Novruzov and Askerov, ethnic Azeris from the town of Marneuli in southern Georgia, said they had complained to the Azerbaijani Embassy and demanded that Mustafayev be dismissed from his post.
They said a customer requested the Russian-language song that sparked the confrontation, "Devochka, Stop!" (Girl, Stop!) by Arsen Shahunts, a Turkmen-born, ethnic Armenian.
Shahunts and older brother Sasha write and perform songs in Russian, Armenian, and Turkmen.
But they also made a point of including a song in Azeri on each of their first five albums as a testament to music's ability to break down cultural barriers.