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Azerbaijan Report: December 11, 2001

11 December 2001
'Yeni Musavat' Correspondents On Hunger Strike
Three correspondents of the newspaper "Yeni Musavat," Elbeyi Hasanli, Rahib Kazimli and Elshad Pashasoy, began a hunger strike on 7 December to demand that police apprehend the person who assaulted Shahnaz Matlabgizi, a correspondent of that newspaper, the previous day and a stop to the pressure on the newspaper. Elbeyi Hasanli says that the hunger strike will continue until an end is put to the pressure on the press. Rahib Kazimli recalled the hunger strikes they staged on 12 November 1998 when the state officials took the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" to court. It is the first time that Elshad Pashasoy takes part in such action and he says he will be together with his colleagues till the end. He said some people have advised them to halt the action, referring to the fate of the Karabakh invalids who staged a hungerstrike early this year. But the three journalists do not see any other way out.

"Yeni Musavat"editor Rauf Arifoglu told his women employees the day after the attack on Shahnaz Matlabgizi not to come to work, but they have all disregarded his advice.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Democratic Congress Staged Protest Action
The pro- Musavat Democratic Congress staged a protest action on 8 December in front of the "Galaba" cinema. Musavat Party Secretary Arif Hajiyev said that the event marks the beginning of a series of new protest actions. Hajiyev said the government's policy of reducing the population to hunger and poverty is clear and aimed at diverting people's energies from political struggle. But Hajiyev thinks that the same policy will result in the overthrow of the Aliyev government. Gubad Ibadoglu, the chairman of the Musavat party commission on economic policy, referred in his speech to the government's policy of corruption. He said there is no need for a detailed study of this policy, it is enough to compare the statistics of separate government officials. According to Ibadoglu, over $2 billion has been embezzled through import operations.

Geyrat party chairman Ashraf Mehdiev criticised other spheres of the government's policy.He said the cease-fire period is characterised by the untimely death of hundreds thousands of refugees and IDPs. The young men of Azerbaijan travel to Russia in order to earn their living. In the majority of cases, they are killed there. Musavat party leader Isa Gambar called on the opposition to unite noting that it will be much easier then to overthrow the government-in-office.In his closing remarks, Arif Hajiyev said that they made a great mistake by allowing Heydar Aliyev to come to power again, but they will not compound their sins by allowing his son to come to power.

(Babek Bekir)

Opposition Newspapers Suppressed In Azerbaijan
Opposition journalists in Azerbaijan intend to stage a picket on 12 December in front of the headquarters of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party regardless of the position of the Baku municipal authorities. Rauf Arifoglu, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service that participants will adopt a resolution demanding "Release the arrested journalists!" "Lift the restrictions from the suspended newspapers!" According to Arifoglu, this will not be the last such protest.

YAP Executive Secretary Ali Ahmadov stated at a press conference last week that they do not understand the newspapers' plans to stage a protest simply because some newspapers were criticised at YAP's second congress. The newspaper "Hurriyyet" was not published on 11 December. Its editor Aydin Guliev said the publishing house "Express" has refused to publish them because of a paper shortage.

Arifoglu says that although the newspapers "Yeni Musavat" and "Azadlig" continue to be published, they too may face the same problem as "Hurriyyet."

(Babek Bekir)

Rustam writes in the newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan" that the world's attitude to terrorism and separatism after the 11 September terrorist acts has made Armenia give up important means of pressure regarding the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. At present, the Armenian-Azerbaijanian conflict is regarded from the standpoint of global processes. International organisations also try to resolve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. For that reason, Armenians fear that the Nagorno Karabakh conflict may not be settled in their favour. Some say that the Armenian diplomacy has been defeated. In order to restore their lost positions, Armenians want Nagorno Karabakh officials to be represented in the Council of Europe sessions but it is unlikely this will happen.

Zulfiyye writes in the newspaper "525" that the rumours that something negative is awaiting Azerbaijan in the upcoming session of the Council of Europe are misplaced. According to some observers, the session can decide to mitigate the cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan and also raise the deputies' prestige to the level of the Council of Europe experts. Taking into consideration that the session is held on the Council of Europe initiative, the experts who visited Azerbaijan a while ago will certainly make speeches on the materials they obtained there. The author predicts that in all cases that the result of the joint session will be positive for the Azerbaijani prisoners. Zulfiyye does not rule out that the Azerbaijani president will sign an amnesty decree later this year which would contribute to raising Azerbaijan's prestige in the eyes of international organisations.

Gudrat Hasanguliev, an official of the reformist wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party who is reported to have serious problems with that organisation, in an interview with the newspaper "525" noted that the time will come when society will demand the reunification of the APFP. He said such re-unification of APFP is inevitable and both sides were aware of that fact when the APFP split.Hasanguliev calls the APFP the guarantor of the Azerbaijani state, noting that because of this, it is impossible to divide the party into two parts. Hasanguliev says that people who co-operate with the intelligence bodies of neighbouring states played a role in the split of the APFP split. Personal interests also played a role. Hasanguliev is confident that the opposition members who once created conditions for the split now regret their actions.

Tural writes in the newspaper "Ulus" that making his statement on the army, Azerbaijan parliament chairman Murtuz Alasgarov created problems for himself. It has also intensified confrontation in the government. The author claims that Heydar Aliyev wants to sack the old members of his team and replace them by younger staff. Alasgarov's most recent statement can become a strong argument for his dismissal. It is not difficult to do it now, as there are calls for Aliyev to show Alasgarov his place. Now opportunities are given to young members of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party to argue with Alasgarov. It shows that the situation is not in Alasgarov's favour. Now it is necessary to determine the date when to sack the speaker of the Azerbaijan parliament.

The newspaper "525" carries an interview with Akif Ashirli, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Sharg". Ashirli says that there are many problems for newspapers to settle together and nobody needs war. According to Asirli, pressure on their newspaper increased after they reported that Ali Kerimov, head of the reformer wing of the APFP, had not responded to insulting press statements about Abulfaz Elchibey. Ashirli thinks that it is an integral part of the government's direct pressure campaign. He says that the newspapers' unification is more urgent now against the government's pressure.

Hikmet Sabiroglu in an article entitled "A Serious issue" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" writes that the pressure campaign against the newspapers in Azerbaijan for many years has intensified again. According to him, publishing houses are forced to refuse to publish some newspapers. The publishing house "BP" which refused to yield to such pressure, was shut down. All the newspapers have refused to publish the newspapers "Yeni Musavat", "Azadlig", "Hurriyyet". The author writes that this pressure does not have only political goals. The state also wants to eliminate private publishing houses in this way. He predicts that the pressure campaign will last until the state forces the newspapers to turn to the state publishing house.

Azer Huseinbala writes in the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" that in some months, Heydar Aliyev will celebrate the anniversary of his return to power. But there are many factors to be resolved before then. Finding an answer to the question how Aliyev came to power is also among the issues to be discussed. The author writes that Heydar Aliyev used developments in order to eliminate everybody in his way. Then he brands the people he used and cast them into prison. Considering the list of the people whom Aliyev calls a traitor, one can think that but for these people Aliyev would have made Azerbaijan a paradise. Now, opposition politicians as well as some people in Aliev's team are on the list of those who betrayed Aliev. But some people cannot give up betraying Aliev. Those people have no intention of stepping back. Because the great majority knows that betraying Aliyev means betraying the Azerbaijani people and state.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)