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Azerbaijan Report: April 30, 2002

30 April 2002
Azerbaijani Opposition Staged Protest
Azerbaijani police did not allow the United Opposition Movement to stage a protest on 27 April in Azadlig square. A serious confrontation took place between police and picketers as a result of which dozens of the latter were seriously injured and taken to different police detention centers. The first confrontation took place among the picketers at approximately 4 p.m. near the main building of the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy. Then the police officers used violence against journalists, beating "Yeni Musavat" journalist Meghrur Al Polad. Mustafa Hajibeyli from the newspaper "525" was also brutally beaten and forced into a police car.

Arif Hajiyev, Musavat party secretary for organisational issues, and Mirmahmud Fettayev, head of the conservative wing of the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party were also beaten. Police officers did not only use violence against picketers but also abused and insulted them.

Police officers beat a man aged 20-25 who was not taking part in the protest until he lost consciousness. Passersby hailed a taxi in order to take him to hospital, but police attacked them, dragged the man into a police car and drove away. Then people began demanding the president's resignation, after which police forced the picketers to leave the area.

Yashar Aliev, deputy head of the Baku City Police Department was sitting in a car and watched the proceedings. RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service kept telephone contact with Musavat party secretary Arif Hajiyev who said that he and 15 picketers were detained in the Narimanov police department.

(Babek Bekir, Maarif Chingizoglu)

Azerbaijanis Leave The Country
The process of migration from Azerbaijan began after the country re-gained its independence. According to the international migration organizations, some 1.5 million people left Azerbaijan in 1994-97. In 2000, some 5,500 people left the republic and the figure rose to 7,200 in 2001. Some 1,600 Azerbaijanis left the republic during the first three months of this year. Naturally, some people came to Azerbaijan over this period, but the negative balance is high in comparison with those who left the republic. Today some 2,415 Azerbaijanis have been registered in European countries, some 1,229 live in Germany. The majority of the emigrants from Azerbaijan have found shelter in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands and Canada.

The major problem of those who leave the republic is unemployment and the difficult situation of their families and they are highly professional specialists. It is unfortunate that persons who could be of service to their own country are obliged to work in menial jobs abroad as they have no alternative. Most of those who head for foreign countries consider themselves political emigres. Some of them leave the country for political goals however, most leave Azerbaijan because of social difficulties.

It is also unfortunate that Azerbaijan cannot get information about those immigrants. There is no law in Azerbaijani to defend their rights even though there is a need for such laws.

Azerbaijani parliament deputy Mais Safarli says that today there are 2 million Azerbaijanis in Russia alone but their rights are not regulated by any law. The same can be stated about the Azerbaijanis living in Europe. Safarli says that an agreement on labor migration must be signed with European countries and Azerbaijani citizens must be sent to work in those countries under that agreement. According to him, all this must be under the state's control. Safarli claims that if the migration of Azerbaijanis is controlled by the state, then their rights will also be protected.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

The 30 April issues of Azerbaijani newspapers carry information about the Trabzon visit of the Azerbaijani president. The governmental newspapers "Khalg" and "Azerbaijan" have devoted their front pages to this visit.

The 30 April issue of the independent newspaper "Zerkalo" quotes Defense Minister Safar Abiyev as saying that a military contract with Pakistan and Georgia is under preparation and the contract with Bulgaria is ready. He said these documents are ready for signing. Abiyev rejected a statement by the Defense Minister of the so-called Nagorno Karabakh Republic that Azerbaijan is not capable of liberating its occupied territories. Abiyev said everybody knows that Nagorno Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan. These lands will be liberated when it is time to do that. The minister also commented on the processes in the Caspian. According to Abiyev, Azerbaijan has the second most powerful navy in the Caspian after Russia.

Bilender Najafly in a commentary "Avaristan's independence is eternal" in the 30 April issue of the opposition newspaper "Hurriyyet" writes that during the night of 26 - 27 April, the state flag, emblem and the placard "Azerbaijan's independence is eternal!" removed from the yard of a Russian school in the village of Katekh in Azerbaijan's Zagatala district which is mainly inhabited by Avars who want to establish an independent republic of Avaristan. They were replaced by such placards as "Avaristan's independence is eternal!" According to Najafly, the incident aroused concern among local residents. The law-enforcement bodies have launched criminal proceedings and are conducting searches. It is believed that the perpetrators are six armed persons living in mountains.

Aynur Jamalgizi begins a commentary entitled "Simply, Ramil Usubov" carried by the 30 April issue of the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat" with a question "Can he be considered Gamlo of the ruling team?" (Gamlo is one of the main charcters in the famous Azerbaijani film "Akhirinji ashirim" (The Last Pass), who fights bolshevism defending one of the beys and trying to keep the poor population under yoke). The author claims that the Azerbaijani police beat and insult picketers in the republic. The author wonders what makes Ramil Usubov serve the president so willingly and openly declare his antipathy to the opposition camp. According to Jamalgizi, minister for national security Namig Abbasov and the defense minister Safar Abiyev can also take such steps in order to please the president. The author calls interesting the fact that Usubov named Ilham Aliyev the most likely candidate for presidency. Why do the other "force" ministers prefer to keep silent? The author suggests that it is due to the defense minister's subservience to the ruling team. According to Jamalgizi, Usubov's name is frequently mentioned in connection with patronizing corruption and other major-scale crime and he is considered "the king of restaurants ." Thus, Usubov has no other way to demonstrate his unprecedented loyalty to the government.

A report carried by the 30 April issue of the opposition newspaper "Hurriyyet" notes that the state has allotted 100 billion manats for organizing the celebration of President Heydar Aliev's birthday on 10 May, suggesting that this fund could be better spent on one-year's supply of food for 400,000 refugees. The author condemns plans to build parks and rest zones in connection with this birthday, claiming that there is no serious need to do so while the local people have no jobs.

Samir Neymanoglu in a commentary "The problem of entrepreneurship without Mahammad Umudov?" carried by the 30 April issue of the opposition newspaper "Azadlig" writes that after the Azerbaijani president's meeting with local entrepreneurs, the head of the Center for Hygienic and Epidemiology Hussein Gadimov and deputy head of the Consumption Department Mahammad Umudov were dismissed. According to the author, the dismissal proved that those persons were undermining the country's business environment. The author claims that state officials including the State Customs Committee (SCC) intervene in business activities without any grounds. The head of state was obliged to admit what "care" the structures to ensure economic security in the country take of businessmen.

The newspaper "Echo" thinks that the police had prepared for the meeting well. The fact how the police prevented from the action also proves it.

The newspaper "Azerbaijan" refers to the cultural ties between Russia and Azerbaijan noting that if Pushkin and Samad Vurgun were alive, they would also become friends.

Bakhtiyar Sadigov in an article "Where is the former opposition taking society and the youth?" carried by the governmental newspaper "Azerbaijan" writes that irrespective of the way national opposition leaders introduce themselves, their time is already past. Intra-opposition processes show that they are incapable of new, positive and rational thinking. The author argues that it is high time to replace the "old division" of the opposition leaders by the youth who have mastered civilized opposition tactics.

Fuad Zarbaliyev who studies for a doctor's degree in international law at Robert Shuman University in an article "Nagorno Karabakh conflict: OSCE or UN?" carried by the independent newspaper "525" asks what can be achieved on the OSCE level. He answers: "This organization has no expertise in resolution of international conflicts and it studies details of this profession on us." As for the proposals the Minsk Group has made so far, even a superficial analysis shows that this structure tries to reconcile Azerbaijan's territorial integrity with Nagorno Karabakh's separatist claims. According to the author, it is absurd and illogical to reconcile contrasting things. The author thinks that it is necessary to raise the Nagorno Karabakh conflict at the UN, to convey to the world community the urgency of Azerbaijan's rights and to show readiness to defend this right.

The 30 April issue of the pro-governmental newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan" asked a number of well-known persons: "Is it possible to settle any problem by protests?" According to Professor Kamal Abdulla, staging a meeting and entering the Azadlig square are separate matters. He says meetings can take place in any part of the world, but if the meeting is staged on Azadlig square, it is difficult to say what principles and goals the opposition is defending.

The newspaper "Azerbaijan" criticises the protest staged by the United Opposition Movement, saying that it is high time for them to leave the political arena.

The 30 April issues of Azerbaijani newspapers focus on the processes within the APFP. The newspaper "Khalg" carries an article "Musavat split APFP" claiming that Musavat party head Isa Gambar has a hand in what is happening in the APFP.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)