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Azerbaijan Report: February 12, 2002

12 February 2002
Adalat Party Member Died In Prison
Adalat party chairman Ilyas Ismailov held a press conference on 12 February to clarify the reasons for the death of Fezail Taghiyev, the head of the Sumgayit branch of the party. The Sumgayit office of the Adalat party was closed down on 10 September 2001 and the incident resulted in a scandal between the party members and the Sumgayit police officers. A number of party members including Fezail Taghiyev were arrested.

Fezail Taghiyev was kept in the treatment institution of the Ministry of Justice due to health problems and could not attend even his trial. Taghiyev died on 9 February in prison.

Adalat party deputy chairman for press issues Elkhan Shukurlu says that the deceased's family was informed of his death only a day later. According to Shukurlu, Taghiyev died due to the tyranny of officials and the injustice of the courts.

Adalat chairman Ilyas Ismailov said that Taghiyev was ill and they had raised the issue with the law-enforcement bodies more than once. They had also sent appeals to the Interior Ministry and the Republican Prosecutors, but received no reply.

Niyazi Mammadov, Head of the Ministry of Justice Department for Implementation of Court Rulings, in an interview with the newspaper "Azadlig" says that Taghiyev was not exposed to any pressure and he died of a heart attack. But party officials say that Taghiyev was exposed to pressure at the time of his arrest and suffered brain damage.

The party chairman said that the government carries the whole responsibility for the incident and they will appeal to the relevant international organisations in this connection.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Can Azerbaijani Refugees Receive Free Education?
Despite the abolition of social benefits, the Musavat party does not think it possible for refugee children to receive paid education at the country's educational institutions. Galabey Aghalarov, chairman of the party's commission on refugees and internally displaced people, says this could result in large-scale illiteracy. According to the commission chairman, the lack of necessary conditions in refugee camps and serious economic problems do not allow many refugees to provide their children with education. The majority of refugee children wishing to get higher education can be accepted to paid faculties in the best case. If they have to pay for their education, it will mean a halt in their education. According to Aghalarov, refugees do not have $500-$1,000 to pay for their children's education.

Aghalarov said the process of illiteracy has long begun among Karabakh children and the abolition of social benefits will make the situation worse. The commission thinks that the state must either restore free education for refugees or allot credits to them, which they can return when they begin to work. Aghalarov says that they intended to stage a protest action in front of the Ministry for Education on 12 February, but it was postponed as the Baku municipality did not give premission for it. The mayor's reply read that the issue does not concern the Ministry for Education and there is no point in staging the action in front of its building.

Bahram Huseynzadeh, Head of a Ministry for Education department, said the ministry cannot make any exceptions. Huseynzadeh pointed out that over 55 percent of education is still free and there are no serious grounds for concern, as refugee children who can demonstrate a certain level of knowledge will be admitted to educational institutions.

(Babek Bekir)

Kamran Hasanli writes in the newspaper "525" that Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev's visit to Iran, which has been postponed a number of times, will now take place. The author reminds that the preparation for Aliev�s visit to Tehran has been underway since 2000, but it has not taken place for different reasons. President Aliyev himself explained the last postponement by technical reasons. The then official information read that the sides had not finalised the joint work on the documents to be signed. Most people did not expect the visit to take place now. Even though the technical issues have been resolved, the geo-political situation in the region has deteriorated dramatically. Iran and the U.S. have recently issued harsh statements directed at each other and the tension is felt in Azerbaijan as well. The author concludes that the fact that Aliyev is visiting Iran now shows that Azerbaijan will occupy a neutral position in the Iranian-Western confrontation.

Mirgadirov writes in the newspaper "Zerkalo" that the Azerbaijani president's upcoming visit to Iran may be postponed. According to the author, the newspaper learned from diplomatic sources that Aliev's examination in the Cleveland clinic will last till 20 February. He said that some sources claim that the delay in the president's examination is not connected with his health. As there are very serious issues at stake, the head of state is obliged to remain in the background for a certain period of time. The author continues that although the U.S. issues harsh statements against Iran, it is impossible for Heydar Aliyev to officially refuse to visit Iran. Up to now, Baku has done much to improve ties with the neighbouring state. Besides, Teheran is a strategic ally of Moscow and the Kremlin has undertaken to resolve the issues regarding the legal status of the Caspian.

Ferhad Mammadov in an article entitled "Why doesn't Heydar Aliyev leave Cleveland?" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" writes that as before, official sources again refrain from providing an explanation why Aliyev remains in the Cleveland clinic and thus create "an atmosphere of doubt" around the president. The author refers to the president's prolonged stay in the U.S. in 2000, which caused speculation about his health. Mammadov says nothing has changed with regard to the information policy concerning Aliev's visit to the U.S. The author thinks that the president does not seem to care about the lack of clarification. According to Mammadov, it is an approach peculiar to authoritarian regimes and proves that the government is closed for the people.

Anar Ahmadov in a commentary "Mutallibov's electorate" carried by the newspaper "Hurriyyet" writes that in order to suppress the people demanding settlement of their problems and to prevent a wave of protest actions, the regime construes their demands as political ones. For instance, the government does not hesitate to claim that the uprisings in the villages around Baku are plotted by Ayaz Mutallibov's supporters. Because different structures are seriously preparing for the presidential elections in 2003. According to the author, Mutallibov's stronghold is in the villages of Baku as well. For this reason, the government wants to suppress the villages. The regime sees that persecution and violence will yield no results and intends to gain support from the villages by the help of the slogans dictated to the masses.

Gabil Abbasoglu in an article "Prison terror" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that when the news of the death of Fezail Taghiyev, head of Sumgayit branch of Adalat party, became known, people recalled the deceased's earlier conflict with the leadership. Taghiyev was among those who protested Heydar Aliev's remarks in the supreme council in 1991. According to the author, those who protested Aliyev's remarks then and were against his coming to power are now being exposed to reprisals. Abbasoglu argues that if a country's politician dies in prison, that country will have no influence in the world and its leader will not have any right to speak of democracy.

An intellectual from Karabakh, Bakhtiyar Javadov, in an interview with the newspaper "Tezadlar" says that he does not support the liberation of the occupied lands through a military operation. He said such a military operation will result in a war which will be waged not on Armenian but Azerbaijani territory. According to Javadov, preference should still be given to "people's diplomacy." Neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia should intervene in the issue. Javadov suggests giving temporary freedom and self-management under Azerbaijani laws to Armenians and that UN armed forces should protect the borders.

Nazim Mustafa in an article "Gabala talk-show" carried by the newspaper "Khalg" writes that the scandal in the Turkish press raised with the help of Azerbaijani opposition and the fact that some Turkish circles did not have enough information about the essence of the agreement on leasing the Gabala radar station to Russia has caused a great deal of confusion. According to the author, the recent analysis shows that the leasing of Gabala radar station to Russia is not harmful for Turkey. In the event that the U.S. is interested in utilising Gabala radar station and conducts an information exchange with Russia, then the utilisation of the station must be beneficial for Turkey as a U.S. ally.

According to information published in the newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan," Russia will annually pay $440,000 for the electricity used by the Gabala radar station. The price will be regulated by the world prices and will be supplied by district distribution networks. The district electrical networks have joined in four regional structures.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)