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Azerbaijan Report: February 22, 2002

22 February 2002
Adalat Party Staged Protest Action
Adalat Party members staged a protest action on 21 February in front of the Ministry of Justice demanding registration of the party. According to party deputy chairman for organisational issues Mutellim Rehimli, the party submitted the documents for registration to the ministry last June, but the ministry has not acted on them. According to Rehimli, their goal in staging the action is not only to have their party registered but to make the Ministry of Justice consider the issue of registration as a sign of respect for Azerbaijan's Constitution and other laws. Rehimli says that there are lawyers in the party leadership and the registration documents do not contain any errors.

Rehimli said the Adalat party has 21,000 members and 76 district organisations which is one of the conditions for its formal registration. He said the Ministry of Justice should not forget that the arrest of some of the party members and the death of one of them in the ministry isolation ward is the result of the party's not being registered. The ministry should not also forget that the Ministry of Justice carries direct responsibility for Fezail Taghiyev's death.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Will The Newspaper "Avropa" Be Pardoned?
The Editors' Union held a meeting on 19 February to discuss the case of the newspaper "Avropa" (Europe). After President Heydar Aliev's meeting in late December with media representatives, some officials declared that they pardoned some newspapers and journalists against whom they had earlier brought law suits. Azeravtonegliyyat (Azerautotransport) president Hussein Husseinov was the first to do so. In an interview with one of the local TV channels, Husseinov stated that he withdrew his claims against the newspapers "Avropa" and "Kriminal" and pardoned both of them.

Azer Garachenli in an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service said that Hussein Husseinov has not yet sent a written request to the court to withdraw his claim for190 million manats worth of damages from the newspaper "Avropa." Garachenli said some 20 days prior to Hussein Husseinov's statement, the newspaper had appealed to the Supreme Court due to the ruling of the Court of Appeals. The trial was held on 15 February and it became clear that Husseinov had not withdrawn the suit. According to the newspaper director, Husseinov should have sent a written letter to the court declaring that he had withdrawn the lawsuit. Garachenli said they were told at the most recent court session that the newspaper should send a letter to Husseinov thanking him. He says that the newspaper "Kriminal" had taken this step, which resulted in Husseinov's pardoning them. Garachenli claims that no gratitude should be expressed to Husseinov for his action as the initiative originated with the Azerbaijani president.

Garachenli said the newspaper "Avropa" and its leadership had evaluated the withdrawal of the lawsuit as a positive step.

Husseinov's assistant Arzu Asadov said that the suit against the newspaper "Kriminal" has been withdrawn and the same process with regard to the newspaper "Avropa" was delayed due to the newspaper's appealing to court.

According to Azer Hesret, Head of the Journalists' Trade Union, the Azeravtonegliyyat official took part in the session of the Editors' Union stating that Husseinov intended to forgive the newspaper "Avropa" and stressing the urgency of holding talks to that end. The editors took that into consideration and established a delegation including Aflatun Amashov, Head of the Committee for Protection of Journalists' Rights RUH, and Gunduz Tahirli, editor- in- chief of the newspaper "Azadlig." They will soon meet with the concern's leadership and try to secure a pardon for the newspaper.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

International Day Of the Mother Language Celebrated In Azerbaijan
21 February was celebrated as the International Day of the Mother Language throughout the world as well as in Azerbaijan. It was the first time that the day was celebrated in Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani president issued a special decree on the Mother Language last August. Even though it has been partly implemented, there are still a number of problems to be settled. At present, the parliamentary commission on culture is drafting a bill on the Azerbaijani Language for the second reading in parliament.

The Azerbaijani textbooks used now in Russian-language schools do not meet the required standard. The Azerbaijan Writers' Union held on 21 February an event in the Natevan Club devoted to the Day of Mother Language and discussed a number of related problems.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Azerbaijani newspapers carry the text of congratulation from Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev and head of the Caucasian Moslems' Board Haji Allahshukur Pashazadeh to the Azerbaijani people on Gurban Bayram (the traditional Moslem Festival of sacrifice when lambs are killed as a sign of obedience to God). Today's newspapers also carry major articles and commentaries on the Khojaly massacre.

Azerbaijani Ambassador to the U.S. Hafiz Pashayev, in an interview with the newspaper "Ekho," says that the Azerbaijani president's health is normal and he controls the processes in Azerbaijan. But it is not known when he will return home. Thus, it is apparent that the president's visit to Iran scheduled for the end of February will not take place. "Ekho" points out that most probably the president will not participate in the CIS summit to be held on 28 February. The reason is the president's health again. Political scientist Rasim Musabeyov in an interview with the newspaper says that if the president does not take part in the summit, it will be no great loss for Azerbaijan.

Mahir in a commentary entitled "A country without a leader" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that even though Heydar Aliyev has not been in Baku since 30 January, everything progresses normally in the republic, nothing has changed in Azerbaijan and government structures are functioning as before. The author rules out one minor fact referring to the recent incident when two parliament deputies visited the refugee camps. But Azerbaijani officials settled the problem without Aliyev as well. Thus the author draws a conclusion that Aliev's absence from the country does not change anything. It means that officials can govern the country without Aliyev as well. If the community had not been informed of Aliev's absence, then everyone would think that it is he who governs the country.

Ferhad Mammadov in an article "Heydar Aliyev will not be able to make at least two foreign visits" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" writes that the delay in Aliev's return to Baku has disrupted his planned schedule of visits. According to the author, Heydar Aliev's health has again prevented him from visiting Iran. The author writes that Washington would not overlook Azerbaijan's signing a friendship agreement with Iran and developing ties with that country in the light of the harsh accusations the U.S. has directed at Iran. From this standpoint, Aliev's health gained him time for manoeuvre. The author notes in the conclusion that Aliyev will not be able to attend the CIS summit either.

Ali Ahmadov, executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, in an interview with the newspaper "Azerbaijan" says that Azerbaijan should take those who committed the Khojaly tragedy to international court. According to Ahmadov, the then Azerbaijani president Ayaz Mutallibov is guilty because he could not ensure security for his people even though it was his duty as head of state to do so.

The newspaper "Khalg" writes that the Azerbaijani opposition has been trying for a long time to bring Ayaz Mutallibov to power. The matter has reached the point where "the five" did not consider it necessary to invite the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party to the negotiating table but invited the Civil Unity Party led by Mutallibov. According to the author, the opposition who once called Mutallibov a "traitor" and banished him from Azerbaijan to Moscow now welcomes this person into their ranks with pleasure and is obliged to tolerate his caprices.

The newspaper "Zerkalo" carries an interview with Nazim Imanov, a member of the Azerbaijan National Independence Party. Referring to the opposition's activity, Imanov said that opposition leaders must be together. Etibar Mammadov and Isa Gambar should hold talks to this end.

An article carried by the newspaper "525" claims that Russian and Azerbaijani lawyers have appealed to Vladimir Putin and expect him to demonstrate fairness to Frenk Elkaponi.

Russian lawyer Sergey Kovalev, who is visiting Baku, in an interview with the newspaper "525" says he is not acquainted with the lawsuits against Rahim Gaziev, Surat Huseynov and Alikram Huseynov. Kovalev these persons must be tried by fair and independent courts. Sergey Kovalev noted that Azerbaijani officials had told them the trials of Rahim Gaziev, Alikram Humbatov and Isgandar Hamidov would be held openly in the Gobustan closed prison.

According to the newspaper "Nedelya," the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have suggested cooperation with Armenia. They refer to the blockade of Armenia. In response to the newspaper's question "Why do these organisations exert pressure on Azerbaijan?" economist Sabit Baghirov said that Armenia has not been exposed to a blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey. On the contrary, Azerbaijan has suffered from such a blockade. A blockade of Armenia is absurd while some 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory is under occupation, Baghirov said.

Chairman of the State Committee on Religious Affairs Rafig Aliyev in an interview with the newspaper "Nedelya" said that some 22 religious schools have recently been closed in Azerbaijan. He said there are 1,300 mosques in Azerbaijan of which some 150 were built over the past 10 years. Aliyev noted that reforms are being conducted in religious schools. Not only religious subjects but also literature, history, geography and other subjects must be taught in those schools.

According to the newspaper "Hurriyyet", the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic is pleased with the talks held with LUKoil.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)