Baku, 13 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The Azerbaijani government today announced seven days of mourning to honor former President Heidar Aliyev, who died yesterday in the United States. The government said in a statement that Aliyev will be buried on 15 December in a state funeral in the capital Baku. The funeral commission had been set up under the leadership of Aliyev's son, Ilham, the current president of the country.
Heidar Aliyev died at a clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, where the 80-year-old was being treated for heart and kidney problems. He stepped down as president of Azerbaijan in October, and was succeeded by Ilham following controversial elections.
Aliyev had been in power in Azerbaijan on and off for about 30 years. He was elected president in 1993 following the country's independence. His record on human rights and media freedom was often criticized in the West.
The U.S. State Department offered its "deepest sympathy" to Aliyev's family and the government and people of Azerbaijan.
For a biography of Aliyev, see Biography Of Deceased Former President Heidar Aliyev