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Azerbaijan Report: October 4, 2002

4 October 2002
Police arrest opposition members in run up to 5 October protest
Plainclothes policemen apprehended two members of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) on 1 October. While party members say the arrest was the result of opposition protest activity, police say that the two were fighting each other and resisted arrest.

The Nasimi District Court sentenced Namig Ehedzade and Hesret Rustamov to 10 days of administrative arrest for "resisting police," according to the DPA press office. The police report said the two scuffled with each other in front of the 28 May metro station, and when the policemen attempted to calm the situation, the two resisted.

However, DPA General Secretary Sardar Jalaloglu said in an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that the arrest of the two party activists was linked to the protest scheduled for 5 October. He contended that all the charges leveled against Ehedzade and Rustamov were baseless, adding that they were arrested near DPA's headquarters. He also stated that the day after the arrest police forces, led by the head of the Yasamal District Police Department, intruded into the building and attempted to arrest the leaders of the organization. Ten opposition parties made a common statement on the incidents. Moreover, Jalaloglu appealed to the Prosecutor-General's Office and the Interior Ministry.

In the meantime, other opposition parties say that police pressure is continuing. Police recently arrested Haji Nadir Kerimov, a member of Musavat Party's Yasamal District organization, and Yusif Suleimanov, a member of the Nasimi District organization, according to Musavat Party spokesman Mehman Javadoglu. Javadoglu added that they have been unable to locate where the detainees are being held. He agrees with the DPA chairman that the recent arrests are related to the upcoming protest.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Azerbaijani Forces Union demands release of Nardaran villagers
The opposition Islamic, Vahdet (Unity), and Social-Democratic parties, united under the Azerbaijani Forces Union, staged a sanctioned protest in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on 3 October. Supporters of three parties demanded the release of the villagers of Nardaran, some of which have been held since the 3 June riots between villagers and police. But the demonstrators became confrontational with the police, who called on them not to mass in front of the building and to keep a certain distance away.

Police eventually forced the protesters away from the front of the building, but were permitted to read a resolution in the center of Fountain Square, which is about half a kilometer from the ministry.

(Babek Bekir)

Aidin Mirzezade, an deputy from the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party (YAP), said in an interview with the pro-governmental newspaper "Yeni Azerbaycan" that those demanding the release of Colonel Suret Huseinov, are enemies of the Azerbaijani people. (Huseinov has been sentenced to life imprisonment for several crimes -- including high treason -- related with an attempted coup d'etat on 4 October 1994.)

Political scientist Mubariz Ahmedoglu in an interview with the independent Russian-language newspaper "Zerkalo" expressed his attitude to the upcoming opposition protest to be held on 5 October. According to him, if the opposition can gather 30,000-40,000 people to the demonstration, the authorities will launch repressive measures against the opposition leaders.

The head of the "reformist" wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, Ali Kerimli, in an interview with the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat," said that the outcome of the opposition protest scheduled for 5 October depends on the mood of the people, adding that now the people are ready. The successes of recent demonstrations have aroused enthusiasm among the opposition and the people. Even now the people are asking opposition activists to inform them about the place and time of demonstrations. Kerimli added that the authorities can no longer claim that there is no cohesion in the opposition camp.

Hikmet Sabiroglu in the article "Why is dialogue impossible?" in the opposition newspaper "Azadlig" wrote that the Council of Europe rapporteur Martinez Cassan's appeal to the executive power to open a dialogue with the opposition is not feasible. A dialogue is possible between parties that respect each other, Sabiroglu noted. Moreover, there is a need to determine who the parties of such a dialogue would be and what issues could be discussed. The government is associated with one man, President Heidar Aliev, while the opposition consists of several people whom the president does not respect as equals.

Tahir Kerimli, the chairman of the Vahdet (Unity) Party, said in an interview with the independent newspaper "Yeni Zaman" that the government's current war propaganda is a show campaign for the West. The government has promised before the Council of Europe not to use force against Armenians over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and to adhere to peace negotiations. Kerimli says that Aliev's comments that opposition members are calling for war is a way to show that he supports the peace process, but the opposition do not.

Irade Huseinova in an article entitled " Heidar Aliev-Azeri people cohesion prevented the 4 October provocation" in the pro-governmental newspaper "Azerbaycan" writes that the averting of the attempted coup d'etat on 3-4 October 1994 indicated that the independence of Azerbaijan is in reliable hands. Most countries and international organizations denounced the attempted coup. It is a sign that the international reputation of Azerbaijan has been increasing since President Aliyev came to power in 1993.

Samir, in an article entitled "Maximum value of credits granted to develop entrepreneurship is $100,000" in the independent newspaper "525" writes that each private Azerbaijani entrepreneur must learn to rely on his own capital. Under today's market economy, businessmen prefer to work with loans. But local businessmen don't have this opportunity because the interest rates for bank loans are high. In such a situation businessmen pin their hopes on the Assistance Fund for Development of Entrepreneurship. Samir notes that while money continues to flow into this fund, there is no fixed or transparent mechanism for loan allocation. As evidence the writer notes that the government has made several changes in the regulations of the fund and has changed the distribution point for the loans to the banks. The author adds that the sum of the loans will range from $1,000 to $100,000. The loans are granted for periods up to five years, on interest rates of 1.5 percent a year.

Former speaker Rasul Guliev in an interview with the opposition newspaper "Hurriyyet" said that President Aliev, instead of supporting entrepreneurship in Azerbaijan, protects the "family business" from administrative bodies. Guliev added that if the government had effected real reforms in 1994-95 to remove obstacles that prevented the development of entrepreneurship, the private sector would now be formed. But it is still not possible to talk about real entrepreneurship. All economic spheres -- import, export, services and trade --remain in the hands of "the family."

(Compiled and translated by Etibar Rasulov)