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Azerbaijan Report: June 21, 2002

21 June 2002
Police Beat Demonstrators Demanding Opposition Leader's Release
Police responded forcefully to an 18 June sit-down protest by activists of the Azerbaijani Democratic Party (ADP) demanding the release of their party chairman, ADP sources told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service. The demonstrators were trying to stage a sit-down protest in front of the detention unit of Baku's Central Police Department in Kara Sheher district to coincide with the planned release of party Chairman Serdar Jalaloglu, who had been imprisoned for five days. But the police prevented the ADP activists from gathering at 12 p.m. in front of the prison to greet their leader.

According to Hasrat Rustamov, a member of ADP's political council, about 200 police officers and men in civilian clothes beat the participants in the protest. Suleiman Memmedli, the ADP's deputy chairman for media affairs; Feremez Javadov, the chairman of the ADP's Khatai district organization; Sabir Aliev, the Absheron district's assembly chairman; and Nizami Safaraliev, a member of Khatai district's organization, were among the protesters who were later taken to the police station in Khatai district. Other demonstrators were forced to leave the scene of the protest.

The ADP's representatives assert that they appealed to Baku's Executive Authority for permission to hold the protest but say they received no answer. Rustamov claimed Memmedli faced pressure from police and plainclothes officers before he was arrested and was wounded seriously. He was taken to the hospital and was diagnosed with internal bleeding. Two other activists were released after being fined 137,000 manats (about $28). Javadov, the fourth party official who was detained, was fined 150,000 manats (about $31) and released. Party Chairman Jalaloglu was finally released at midnight, three hours later than expected. Rustamov said that despite the police violence, many ADP members met Jalaloglu on his release as planned.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Human Rights Activist Alleges Police Pressure
Human rights activists Chingiz Ganizade was beaten by police officers while in custody on 18-19 June, he alleged at a press conference. Ganizade, the chairman of the Committee for Democracy and Human Rights, said he was assaulted in a Binegedi district police station. According to Ganizade, police phoned him and ordered to come to the station. There he was told to give evidence in connection with a violent death. The police had found his phone number in a mobile phone belonging to a person working at a cafe near the scene of the crime. Ganizade said that the worker did not know what to do after the killing and phoned him for advice. Ganizade advised him to contact the police and a doctor, he said.

The human rights defender said that the chief of the Binegedi police department, Javadaga Javadov, was among those who met him at the police station. Following an interrogation in station chief Rasim Musaev's office, he was told to wait in the corridor. After 40 minutes, Ganizade became alarmed and entered the chief's office to ask when he would be released. In response, police officers began to insult and beat him. According to Ganizade, he was released after human rights organizations intervened. Participants in the press conference said that human rights activists have appealed to the parliamentary human rights commission, the Interior Ministry, and the Prosecutor-General's Office. That evening Interior Minister Ramil Usubov met with Ganizade and pledged to prevent illegal actions against him. Ganizade himself claims that Binegedi police chief Javadov is responsible for the incident.

Human rights activist Novella Jafarova, speaking at the press conference, said that society is not indifferent to lawless actions against outstanding figures such as Chingiz Ganizade. But some people still suffer abuse from police officers at the same police station, she charged. At the end of the press conference, human rights activist Sahib Memmedov said that the human rights community considers the incident to be the "traditional lawless behavior of police officials." But if serious measures are not taken within the next few days, they will regard it as government policy, he said.

(Babek Bekir)

An article entitled "The Armenians accuse Kocharian of treason against national interests" in the 21 June issue of the pro-government newspaper "Yeni Azerbaycan" reports that a statement signed by seven Armenian political parties considers the Paris and Key West negotiations to be an incorrect political step and a diplomatic defeat.

The opposition newspapers "Azadlig" and "Hurriyyet" and the independent newspaper "Zerkalo" report that the U.S. State Department appealed to the Azerbaijani government to solve the problems that led to the 3-4 June violence in the village of Nardaran and the imprisonment of ADP Chairman Serdar Jalaloglu.

The newspapers also cover President Heidar Aliev's comment during his recent Nakhchivan visit that he will run for re-election in 2003.

In a commentary entitled "Aliyev and Kocharian meet in July" in "Zerkalo," Rauf Mirgadirov writes that before that meeting, the two heads of state are to hold separate meetings with the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group. According to the author, both presidents expressed their readiness to conduct peaceful negotiations. Mirgadirov argues that the Armenian president is dissatisfied that President Aliyev has revealed details of the "Paris principles" but did not refuse to meet with him. Citing political experts, Mirgadirov alleges that Moscow and Washington have given permission to reopen Nakhchivan-Baku train service passing through Armenia. But the plan is impossible to implement until four occupied Azerbaijani districts -- Gubadli, Zengilan, Jabrail, and Fuzuli -- are liberated. Therefore President Aliyev often remarks on the importance of lifting the blockade of Nakhchivan and restoring lines of communication.

The newspaper "Azadlig" carries an interview with U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson. The ambassador expresses his opinion about the unrest in Nardaran and asserts that some points are still unclear. "We are concerned about the events that have taken place in Nardaran and are discussing the situation with the ruling circles. And we are not aware of the interference of foreign forces in the matter." The ambassador said that he would not be able to give a detailed answer to a question about the possible exchange of land between Azerbaijan and Armenia as part of a Karabakh settlement. According to Wilson, the U.S. administration intends to support any compromise that meets the parties' wishes. Wilson refused to comment on President Aliev's speech in Nakhchivan and added that Washington was supporting steps aimed at reaching a peace agreement between the two presidents.

In the article "Heidar Aliyev speaks instead of his people again" in the 21 June issue of the opposition newspaper "Hurriyyet," Nijat Daglar writes that it is interesting that the president said in his Nakhchivan speech: "The people support me. Thus there is no need for falseness." Aliev's logic means that if the people do not support him, he can resort to falseness. Aliyev himself knows that it is meaningless to speak about popular support in the 1998 presidential elections, Daglar writes. As for the presidential elections that will be held in 2003, there is no need to describe the people's attitude to the president. Daglar recalls that in a 1990 speech in Moscow after the 20 January massacre, Aliyev said that the Karabakh conflict, which was then two years old, had gone on too long and should have been solved long before. But during his time as president, Aliyev could not take back even a small piece of the occupied territories. Many consider Aliev's "there is no need for falseness" statement as indirect evidence that the previous elections were falsified. Daglar concludes that it is not indirect but direct evidence. Aliyev loves his presidential position most of all, the author writes; he loves his power more than his own health.

The pro-government newspaper "Yeni Azerbaycan" reports that the expected sale abroad of natural gas extracted from the Shah Deniz field will bring income totaling $1.5 billion by 2006. Government sources say that at first the natural gas from Shah Deniz will be transported through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline to the Turkish market. In general the republic's revenue from export of Shah Deniz natural gas is predicted to be $2.2 billion in 2007 and $5.8 billion in 2011.

Azer Aihan in an article entitled "Heidar Aliev's eternal dream" in the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat" analyzes the opposition's position. According to Aihan, the opposition has entered a critical stage. Time is working against it. At present, the most important issue is to unite the separate opposition forces. The author claims that as presidential elections approach, President Aliyev will make an effort to split the opposition and increase problems within it. The divisions occurring inside the opposition Azerbaijan People's Front Party give reason to predict such tactics. The government is seeking supporters inside the opposition. Aihan says that President Aliev's visit to Nakhchivan can also be seen as an attempt to split the people. The president wants to show the public that he takes a special interest in the problems of the region where he was born and thus to irritate other regions' inhabitants. A negative attitude to the inhabitants of Nakhchivan from the population of other regions in the run-up to elections suits the ruling circles.

The chairman of the Union of Young Economists, Azer Amiraslanov, in an article in the independent newspaper "525" points that it is possible to establish investment corporations with the help of the Oil Fund. At present there is no need to put the Oil Fund's resources into foreign hands. But it is useful to cooperate with them in order to assure effective management of these resources. Specialists could be sent abroad for experience. Amiraslanov writes that the main task is to define the methods of investing the fund's resources. To insure Azerbaijan against changes in oil prices, Amiraslanov suggests keeping one part of the fund's resources in deposits as a reserve.

(Compiled and translated by Etibar Rasulov)