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Azerbaijan Report: July 17, 2001

17 July 2001
Karabakh War Invalids' Protection Committee Stages Demo
On 14 July the Committee to Protect the Karabakh War Invalids staged a protest demonstration to demand their release at a meeting in front of the Gelebe cinema. Both the Karabakh war invalids and members of political parties took part in the rally. Among the leaders of the political parties joining the Karabakh war invalids were chairmen of both wings of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, Mirmakhmud Fattayev and Ali Kerimov, and head of the Geyrat Party Ashraf Mekhdiyev.

Head of the Karabakh War Invalids' Protection Committee Zardusht Alizadeh, who led the demonstration, stated that such rallies will be continued until the government releases the Karabakh war invalids. All the participants expressed the opinion that the arrest of Karabakh war invalids was ordered by the government. Ali Kerimov said that the goal of high-ranking officials is to demonstrate to people that if the government committed repression against the Karabakh war invalids, a group of people deserving privileges, it will violate the protests of all other members of society.

Mirmakhmud Fattayev, Ashraf Mekhdiyev, and Karabakh War Invalids Society Chairman Etimad Asadov accused President Heidar Aliyev of arresting Karabakh war invalids. Etimad Asadov said that by pressing Karabakh war invalids Aliyev wants to realize the "successor plan" -- transferring power to his son Ilham -- and to sign the capitulation peace deal with Armenia.

In comparison with the 16 June demonstration by the Karabakh War Invalids Protection Committee, the number of participants of the 16 July demonstration doubled and reached 3,000. The trial of the six arrested Karabakh War Invalids Society members ended on 11 July but the pronouncement of sentence was put off for an indeterminate time.

(Babek Bakir)

Arrest of 'Ulus' Employers
Aybeniz Hasanzadeh, a former employee of the newspaper "Ulus," during a press conference on 6 July accused the founder of the newspaper, Jagub Abbasov, and deputy editor Surkhay Godjayev of assault on 5 July (see: "RFE/RL Azerbaijan Report," 6 July 2001). Jagub Abbasov and Surkhay Godjayev rejected Hasanzadeh's accusations as "slander." On 12 July Abbasov and Godjayev were arrested after a confrontation with Hasanzadeh at the police department. On 15 July a court sentenced Abbasov and Godjayev to three months in prison under articles 221.2 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.

The lawyer for Abbasov and Godjayev, Osman Kazimov, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service that they applied to the Court of Appeal but he does not believe that the latter will pass a just sentence. He considers the arrest of Abbasov and Godjayev to be politically motivated because they were close to ex-speaker Rasul Kuliev.

The head of the Committee to Protect Abbasov and Godjayev, Natig Jabiyev, said in an interview with RFE/RLs' Azerbaijan Service that the committee has appealed to human rights and journalists' organizations and embassies of foreign countries to Azerbaijan in order to help toward the release of Abbasov and Godjayev. Acting Editor in Chief Mamed Nazimoglu appealed to Prosecutor-General Zahid Garalov and Interior Minister Ramil Usubov to demand the release of Surkhay Godjayev and Jagub Abbasov.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Arrest of 'Alcopone' Ordered By Armenians?
"The arrest of the head of the group of companies Intersever and chairman of the Yedinstvo Party's Moscow regional branch, Fizuli Mamedov, is ordered by the Armenian diaspora in Russia," "21st Century" People Patriots Union Party Chairman Husein Huseinov said during a press conference on 17 July. Fizuli Mamedov, who is best known by his nickname 'Frenk Alcopone,' was arrested on 4 June in Moscow. Police found 500 grams of heroin in his possession. Husein Huseinov read a letter by Fizuli Mammedov addressed to Azerbaijani media. Mamedov in his letter rejected all accusations against him and hoped that he would be released within the next few days.

Husein Huseinov, recalling Fizuli Mamedov's efforts to create a strong diaspora of Azerbaijanis in Russia, said that Mamedov wanted to hold the World Azerbaijan Congress in Moscow. After President Aliyev signed a decree on holding such congress by government in Baku, Mamedov stated that he is ready financially to support the holding of the congress.

Husein Huseinov denied the rumours that the arrest of Fizuli Mameodv was ordered by the Azerbaijani government . According to him, Mamedov did not have any business interests in Azerbaijan. He also said that it is the third time that the ''21th Century" party has appealed to the Baku City Council for permission to convene a demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy to Azerbaijan to demand the release of Fizuli Mamedov. He noted that the Baku City Council rejected their previous appeals.

President of the "Frenk" fund Jafar Hasanov said that Azerbaijanis who live in Russia do not have any support in Russia. "It is very difficult to achieve the election of Azerbaijanis to the Russian parliament. Fizuli Mamedov makes efforts in this direction and attempted to determine a united candidate from all Azerbaijani societies in Russia in order to take part in the next parliamentary election in Russia.

(Babek Bakir)

Baku City Council Does Not Allow Protest Against Separatism
The Baku City Council did not permit some 100 representatives of the Lezghin nationality, supporters of the International Struggle Against Ethnic Separatism, to stage a rally in Baku from the building of the National Security Ministry to the President's Office on 20 July to protest the present separatist moves in the northern districts of Azerbaijan. Baku City Council in its letter said that staging a rally in front of the National Security Ministry and the President's Office is undesirable.

Reikhan Aslanova, chairman of the group, said that the society members applied to the Baku City Council again for permission to convene a rally by the same route. Aslanova said that the separatist forces in Khachmaz are activating and they use the name of the Lezghin people to realize their political goals. She added that the local authority supported their moves.

(Natig Zeynalov)

There are some positive trends for Azerbaijan in the Karabakh peace process, Novruz Mamedov, who heads the international relations department within the presidential office, said in his interview with the independent newspaper "Zerkalo." Mamedov said he appreciates the unanimity among the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group. According to him, the peace efforts have been complicated by a lack of such unanimity in recent years. But at the same time Mamedov accused Armenia of unwillingness to compromise, and says that "the peace process is impeded by the unconstructive position of the Armenian side." According to him, that unconstructive position was recognized by the Minsk Group's co-chairmen during their recent visit in Baku.

"The opposition's weakness and the opposition itself is working for Heidar Aliev's regime," writes the independent newspaper "Tezadlar." "The opposition cannot come to power simply by waiting for X-day [when Aliyev departs from the political scene]. The opposition has to be an opposition or renounce that title," the paper argued.

"Opposition leaders are travelling around the world more than the president does. They were passive during the protests by Karabakh war invalids too, although it was during the time when the present opposition was in power that these men lost their health," the paper concluded.