Azeri flag set on fire at European Weightlifting Championships opening ceremony in Armenia

15 April, 12:54 PM
The flag of Azerbaijan is burning (Photo:Photolure)

The flag of Azerbaijan is burning (Photo:Photolure)

The opening of 2023 European Weightlifting Championships in Armenia on April 14 ended with a grand international scandal when the Azerbaijani flag was deliberately set on fire by a spectator, an online video shows.

During the Parade of Nations where flags of participating countries are presented, a man ran out, snatched the Azerbaijani flag, and set it on fire.

Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry has already commented on the incident.

"We condemn burning of national flag of Azerbaijan at the opening ceremony of the European Weightlifting Championship in Armenia. It is worrying that no security measures were taken by organisers against such hate action. Perpetrators should be accordingly punished!" MFA Spokesperson Aykhan Hajizada wrote on Twitter.

Video of day

Armenian designer Aram Nikolyan claimed responsibility for the action on Facebook. He was taken to a police station but released soon after.

The two nations went to war in 2020 over Nagorno-Karabakh, in a conflict that costed the countries thousands of lives and resulted in Azerbaijan claiming large swathes of lands previously held by Armenia. Tensions between the neighbors remain high as Azeri activists blockade a critical transport route between Armenia and its exclave, Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ukrainian athletes are boycotting competitions featuring Russia and Belarus under guidance from the government.

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