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Azerbaijan Report: October 29, 2002

29 October 2002
Opposition Rally Ends With Blackout
On 27 October more than 30 opposition parties under the United Opposition Movement held a scheduled sanctioned protest and marched from the 20 Yanvar metro station to the Galaba cinema. The opposition claimed that about 50,000 people participated in the march. As during previous protests, the demonstrators called for the resignation of President Heydar Aliev, cancellation of the results of the 24 August referendum on amendments to the Constitution, freedom for occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and the release of the villagers from Nardaran, whom the government began detaining since the June 3 clash with police.

As protesters reached Galaba Square, police began to surround it, blocking a number of demonstrators from entering and thus delaying the scheduled rally. Serdar Jalaloglu, the chairman of the Democratic Party, was the first to speak. He asked the demonstrators for a minute of silence to honor the memory of the deceased passengers and crew of the Mercury 2 vessel, which sank in the Caspian on 22 October. Jalaloglu said that the existence of Azerbaijan remains doubtful. He added that while Heydar Aliyev continues to steer a vessel named Azerbaijan, the danger remains that it will also sink some day.

Isa Gambar, the chairman of the Musavat Party, also began his speech with the sinking of the freighter-ferry. He said that some people claim that the vessel went down because some of its parts had been sold abroad. That is applicable to Azerbaijan, which also faces such a danger, Gambar added.

Ali Kerimov, the head of the "reformist" wing of the Popular Front Party (PFP), noted that at present the chief task of the Azerbaijani people and the opposition is not to give the government the opportunity for new electoral games.

Mirmahmud Miralioglu, the leader of the "conservative" wing of the PFP, told the people present that Heydar Aliyev will never resign of his own free will. The people and opposition should force him to do it. Miralioglu also added that the president will never get Karabakh back, since he came to power thanks to the occupation of the Azerbaijani territories.

Midway through the rally, a power cut forced the speakers to continue with the aid of a loudspeaker. Jalaloglu said that the outage was a deliberate attempt to interrupt the meeting. No clashes between the protesters and police were observed.

(Babek Bekir)

The independent newspaper "525," writes citing the president of the National Ecological Forecasting Center Telman Zeinalov, that the oil spill resulting from the sinking of the "Mercuty-2" freigher-ferry presents a serious danger for the environment.

The independent Russian-language newspaper "Ekho" reports that 16 opposition parties held a demonstration in Yerevan on the 27 October anniversary of the 1999 terrorist attack on the Armenian parliament. The demonstrators called Armenian President Robert Kocherian a murderer.

The independent Russian-language newspaper "Zerkalo" writes that the Moscow representative office of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has been closed. In another article, the newspaper notes that Sabir Rustemkhanli, the chairman of the Civil Solidarity Party, has left Demcongress--a grouping of opposition parties--and is now preparing for the 2003 presidential elections.

Sekhavet Aliyev in the article "Crisis of our morals" in the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that the morality of the Azerbaijani people has been undermined since 1920. After the Soviet occupation, comrades Lenin and Stalin, the "moral fathers" of President Aliev, laid the foundation for moral genocide against Azerbaijanis. After 1969, when Heydar Aliyev came to power, this dissoluteness flourished even more. Falsifications and upward distortions of social figures spread like an epidemic. Once he returned to power in 1993, Aliyev continued to "break" the Azerbaijani people, but with new methods. There is a moral crisis in Azerbaijan and this crisis is more dangerous than the economic or political ones, the author concludes.

An author writing only as Tural in an article entitled "What happened in Moscow?" in the independent newspaper "Tezadlar" comments on the Moscow hostage crisis. Tural writes that it is ridiculous to equate the situation in Chechnya with that of Nagorno-Karabakh. While the Chechen people want independence for their historical lands, the Armenians want it on foreign, Azerbaijani lands.

Elshad Miralem in the article "The Azerbaijani opposition shows its moral level by holding a preconceived campaign against Lale Shovket" in the pro-governmental newspaper "Azerbaycan" writes that unlike some politicians, Lale Shovket, the head of the Liberal Party, has showed herself as a resolute political figure. Miralem also notes that the opposition's attacks and slanders against Shovket demonstrate that some politicians have no notion of moral principles.

An author writing only as Nergiz in an article entitled "Try not to die," published in the opposition newspaper "Hurriyyet" claims that most people face financial difficulties when burying their relatives. Nergiz writes that, as well as other sectors, cemeteries have become an income source for some people. Businessmen have leased most cemeteries; therefore, it is no wonder that price of gravesites has increased. In short, to die in the country is as problematic as to live, the author concludes.

Vagif Bairamov's article "Reducing poverty is a chief part of the state's economic policy" published in the pro-governmental newspaper "Khalg" comments on "The State Program on Reducing Poverty and Economic Development" and notes that reducing poverty is a primary condition for stabilizing the macroeconomic situation. Bairamov writes that the realization of the program will promote constant improvement of the social and economic lives of the population, the opening of new workplaces and widening of spheres of production.

Elbrus Jeferli in an article entitled "Projects for development of light industries prepared" in the pro-governmental newspaper "Yeni Azerbaycan" writes that since 2003 a number of projects are expected to be realized in order to promote the development of small- and medium- sized business in the light industry and food sectors. At the same time it has proposed providing state assistance to these areas and granting loans on preferential terms.

(Compiled and translated by Etibar Rasulov)