Stop me if you've heard this one before: an Azerbaijani diplomat, a Georgian rapper, and an Azeri musician walk into a bar....
But the punchline was no joke for the two musicians.
Aphik Novruzov and Anas Askerov allege that the Azerbaijani Embassy's first secretary verbally and physically attacked them in a musical mix-up during a boozy Old New Year's celebration at a restaurant in the Georgian capital on January 14.
The diplomat, Vugar Mustafayev, loudly berated a post-Soviet pop singer's Russian song as "Armenian music" before the fisticuffs started, they said.
"I don't know how an ambassador's representative can fail to distinguish between Armenian and Russian songs," Novruzov, a rapper who performs in Azeri in Georgia and abroad, said in a Facebook video after the incident. In it, he and Askerov show a phone image of Mustafayev and accuse him of instigating the fight.
Police and paramedics were called to the scene at Tbilisi's Qabala Basket Azeri restaurant, though no injuries were reported.
Azerbaijan and Armenia are still technically at war over Azerbaijan's mostly ethnic Armenian breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, and mutual resentments frequently boil over into public expressions of anger.
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.
Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan