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Azerbaijan Report: April 9, 2002

9 April 2002
Alleged Russian Spies Detained In Baku
The Prosecutor General and the Ministries for National Security and Internal Affairs have issued a joint statement saying that Russian citizens interested in observing facilities of state significance in Azerbaijan have been detained. Two men, Russian citizens Rashid Yusipov and Sergey Burov, were detained by police at 8 p.m. on 2 April after officers noticed behavior they considered suspicious. The police inspected the detainees' Tofash car and allegedly discovered devices for secret observation, which were confiscated. Three more alleged members of the group -- Oleg Khramov, Viktor Klochkov and Vitaliy Chernishev, all Russian citizens -- were also detained in the operation. In preliminary statements, all five said they were from the Russian private security service ALFA, but then changed their testimony and said they said they worked for Russian Federal Security Service and came to Baku to take measures related to Chechens here. But Azerbaijan's law enforcement bodies claim that the men came to observe facilities of strategic importance in Azerbaijan and gather information about them. Criminal proceedings were instituted against the detainees under Articles 302.2 and 320.2 of Azerbaijan's Criminal Code.

The Russian citizens were handed over to the Russian Embassy in Azerbaijan on 8 April following an appeal by the Russian Federation in accordance with the agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance between the two countries. Azerbaijan has requested that the Russian Federation General Prosecutor's Office continue the criminal case against the men and has forwarded relevant documents in accordance with the requirements of the CIS countries' Minsk Convention.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Prisoner Ends Hunger Strike As Authorities Promise To Consider His Demands
An alleged political prisoner has ended a two-week hunger strike after the authorities said they will consider his demand for a reduced sentence. The prisoner, former Commander of the Internal Forces Fehmin Hajiyev, is serving a 15-year sentence in Gobustan high security prison. Parliament deputy Alimemmed Nuriyev, who is working on Hajiyev's behalf, says that the prisoner has demanded that the Appeals Court reconsider his case and reduce his sentence by five years. Hajiyev was convicted of abuse of power in 1994 and imprisoned for nine years. His case was later re-considered and six more years were added to his sentence. Nuriyev says that under the new Criminal Code, this sentence should be reduced by five years.

Nuriyev told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service that he and fellow parliamentarian Gulamhusein Aliyev visited the Appeals Court to press Hajiyev's demand. They were told that Hajiyev's demand will be considered in the near future. Nuriyev said his appeals to other state bodies in connection with the Najiyev case have not produced any results.

Lawyer Yaver Hussein tried to visit Hajiyev on 6 April but was not allowed to do so. Later he told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service that Hajiyev had ended the hunger strike because the relevant authorities promised to consider some of his demands.

According to Hussein, the head of the Appeals Court has recently received a group of parliament deputies and promised to reconsider the Hajiyev case. Hussein says that, although the court may agree to reconsider the case soon, there may be delays before Hajiyev's sentence is reduced. Hussein says that if the demands are not implemented, Hajiyev can resort to a new protest.

(Babek Bekir)

Problems Of Azerbaijani Youth In Georgia
RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service has devoted a program to the problems of young ethnic Azerbaijanis living in Georgia. The chairman of Sabah (Tomorrow) Youth Organisation, Kamran Hasanli, says that their problems are mainly material.Young people with higher education who do not know the Georgian language cannot find a job in that country, and so they emigrate to Russia. Ethnic Azerbaijani Samira Mahmudova says the condition of Azerbaijanis is particularly difficult in Georgia's Garayazi district. According to her, all official business is conducted in the Georgian language and the rights of Azerbaijanis are violated at every step.

Azerbaijani Ilgar Ilkin says that there are not enough teachers in schools. Azerbaijani history and literature is not taught at all. Rahib Rasulov, a member of the Sabah Youth Organisation, says there are not enough textbooks in secondary schools. For instance, there are only two German language textbooks in one village inhabited by Azerbaijanis, and one Georgian language teacher for three or four villages. Students aged 15 and 16 must pay for education in the ninth and tenth forms.

Young Azerbaijanis from Georgia also say that Armenians with Georgian surnames play an active role in creating problems for Azerbaijanis there.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Former state advisor Vafa Guluzade says in an interview with the newspaper "Zerkalo" that it is not right to grant full autonomy to Karabakh. Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev suggested in 1994 that Karabakh could be granted such status, but Guluzade says now that the offer was the result of despair. "The president said it when Azerbaijan had lost some six districts and the president was in a hopeless state," Guluzade claimed. The author of the article, Rauf Mirgadirov, says that at present, Aliev's entourage openly makes unexpected statements about the disputed enclave. National Security Minister Namig Abbasov has even stated that he is ready to liberate Karabakh from the Armenians at any moment. The author asks, if the National Security Ministry is ready to liberate Karabakh at any moment, who is preventing it from doing so?

Bakhtiyar Tunjay in a commentary "The Minsk Group co-chair countries begin backing Azerbaijan's fair position" carried by the newspaper "525" writes that Russian-Azerbaijani ties are improving rapidly. It is no secret that relations between Moscow and Baku have not been always smooth. The author notes that changes are felt not only in Russia's position regarding the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. The same change is observed in another OSCE Minsk Group co-chair, the United States, as well. According to the author, officials making optimistic statements that the conflict could be settled by the year's end may be right. In any case, he writes, it is perfectly clear that the predicament concerns everybody and everyone is interested in resolving the problem.

Kamal in an article "Iran does not want to see Aliyev in Tehran yet" carried by the newspaper "Hurriyyet" draws a connection between the visit of ethnic Azerbaijani Iranian leader Mahmudeli Chohragani to Baku and the long-delayed visit of President Heydar Aliyev to Iran.The author reminds readers that a year ago, Chohraganli, the leader of the Southern Azerbaijan Revival Movement, openly voiced his wish for medical treatment in Baku, but official Baku did not react to his request. Now, the ruling YAP has taken the political step of receiving him. Kamal suggests that the ruling party was acting on instructions from Aliyev personally. The author points out that Aliev's visit to Iran has been put off for five years, and suggests that the government will use Chohraganli as a means of pressure on Tehran to accelerate the visit to Iran.

An unsigned article entitled "Murtuz Alasgarov's presidency," carried by the newspaper "Tezadlar," proposes an interesting scenario for the post-Aliyev period. According to the author, future developments could depend on mass protests and the opposition's demand that the president resign. Parliament deputy Ilham Aliyev -- the president's son -- could be elected speaker on a temporary basis and current parliamentary chair Murtuz Alasgarov would become acting president. As the former head of the Internal Ministry Investigation department Nizami Gojayev has been rehabilitated and re-gained his rank, it can be expected that he will become Interior Minister. The author concludes that the only impossible thing is to restrict the opposition's activity.

Rahib Kazimli, in a commentary "Poor Arabul" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat," writes that in the first years of Azerbaijan's independence there were great hopes for a strong flow of foreign companies into the country. Those hopes were realized at first. According to the author, during the privatization period, Heydar Aliev's "professional" personnel fully realized the hopes their leaders pinned on them. But the author stresses that everything developed in reverse later on. He mentions the Czech businessman Viktor Kozeny, who could not realize his plans in Azerbaijan. Now neither the court nor anybody else hears his voice. According to the author, Hussein Arabul, president of the Azerbaijani branch of the Turkish holding company Barmek, could face the same fate that Kozeny encountered. The author says that Arabul has begun to complain that the owners of millions of dollars worth of villas in the center of Baku refuse to pay for electricity supplied by Barmek.

According to the newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan," the delivery of Russian gas to Azerbaijan was halted due to reconstruction work being conducted on gas pipelines.

The chairman of the opposition Azerbaijan People's Party, Penah Huseinov, told the newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan" that the fact that two organizations are working under the name Azerbaijan Popular Front Party is seriously impeding unification of the opposition.

The chairperson of the Azerbaijan Liberal Party, Lale Shovkat Hajiyeva, in an interview with the newspaper "Zerkalo" comments on the protests demanding the government's resignation. According to her, the opposition must discuss this issue and everything must be in compliance with the constitution.

Aligismet Badalov in an article entitled "Whom does the opposition's propaganda of Islam serve?" carried by the pro-government newspaper "Azerbaijan" criticises the opposition Musavat Party's positive attitude to Iran.

Azerbaijan Democrat Party Secretary-General Serdar Jelaloglu in an interview with the newspaper "Hurriyyet" predicted that the existing government will be replaced in "not more than five months."

Khalig Bahadir in an article entitled "The men of two camps" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" writes that regionalism occupies a significant place in the ruling clan's personnel policy. Regionalism, he writes, comes not from love of the region the clan is from, but the wish to retain power. By placing people from only one region in power, the whole country becomes dependent on that region. According to the author, the confrontation intensifies the longer the government in office remains in power. Plundering increases as the confrontation deepens. The clan which has seized political and economic interests for itself and its supporters puts the region into danger by sacrificing national and state interests. According to the author, two camps have been formed in the country. One of them is the national democratic camp, and the other one comprises Aliev's supporters. The author says the first camp loves the great country of Azerbaijan, but the second one adheres to somebody's anti-Azerbaijani wishes.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)