Russia ready to mediate talks between Armenia, Azerbaijan

Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan, center, attends the funeral of Major Garush Hambardzumyan, who was killed in fighting with Azerbaijani forces, Yerevan, Armenia, July 16, 2020. (AP Photo)
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Updated 17 July 2020

Russia ready to mediate talks between Armenia, Azerbaijan

  • Putin alongside senior Russian government officials emphasised an urgent need for the parties to adhere to a cease-fire
  • The two rivals have been locked for decades in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s southwestern separatist region of Nagorny Karabakh

MOSCOW: Russia said Friday it is prepared to mediate peace talks between ex-Soviet rivals Armenia and Azerbaijan after fighting escalated along their shared border.
President Vladimir Putin and members of Russia’s Security Council expressed “extreme concern” over the flare-up in fighting between the South Caucasus countries that erupted last week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Putin alongside senior Russian government officials “emphasised an urgent need for the parties to adhere to a cease-fire, and voiced a readiness to mediate efforts,” Peskov said, quoted by the Interfax news agency.
The two rivals have been locked for decades in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s southwestern separatist region of Nagorny Karabakh, which was seized by ethnic Armenian separatists in a 1990s war that claimed 30,000 lives.
Negotiations mediated by Russia, the United States, and France since 1994 have failed to bring about a lasting resolution to the stalemate.
The most recent flare-up in fighting began on Sunday, with both sides accusing the other of starting the shelling that has continued sporadically for several days and so far claimed a total of 17 lives.
Armenian government spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said Friday that fighting subsided overnight and that “the situation remains calm, there is no shooting.”
Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said “overall, situation remains tense.”


3 funeral workers fired over Maradona coffin photos

Updated 27 November 2020

3 funeral workers fired over Maradona coffin photos

  • The images distributed across social media have created outrage, even death threats, across a nation that venerated Maradona
  • Claudio Fernández confirmed that he’d lost his job at the Pinier funeral home, along with his son Ismael and Claudio Medina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: Three funeral workers have been fired for posing for photos alongside the body of soccer star Diego Maradona shortly before his funeral.
The images distributed across social media created outrage, even death threats, across a nation that venerated Maradona, who died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 60. Tens of thousands lined up for a chance to file past his body at the nation’s presidential palace on Thursday.
Claudio Fernández confirmed to Radio Diez on Friday that he’d lost his job at the Pinier funeral home, along with his son Ismael and Claudio Medina.
One of the images shows Fernández and his son — smiling and with thumb raised — alongside Maradona’s body in the coffin on Thursday. Medina appears in another in the same pose.
Fernández insisted that he hadn’t known they’d planned to take a photograph, much less distribute it. “It was something instantaneous. I’d just raised my head and my son did it like any kid of 18,” he told the radio station.
He said he had been receiving threats from others living in the El Paternal neighborhood where Maradona debuted as a professional in 1976 with the Argentinos Juniors team.
“They know me. I’m from the neighborhood,” Fernández said. “They say they are going to kill us, break our heads.”
The team issued a statement saying it was considering expelling Fernández from its membership rolls.