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Azerbaijan Report: September 25, 2001

25 September 2001
Is There Dirty Money In Azerbaijan?
The Azerbaijani press has already carried information about the dirty money Osama bin Laden and his family members save in different countries of the world. The newspaper "Yeni Musavat" reports that one of the leaders of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency claimed in an interview with the Italian press that the Cyprus Republic is one of the countries where terrorists "wash" their money. According to the newspaper, the Head of the Central Bank of the Cyprus Republic had to allow bin Laden and his family members to make investments in this island.

Nazim Imanov, a former member of the Azerbaijan parliament, expresses regret that Azerbaijan is one of the countries, which has favorable conditions for washing "dirty" (illegally eraned) money. He says Azerbaijan�s legislation does not allow for special control over money invested in the country. But Imanov thinks that it would not be right to place Azerbaijan on the top of the list of the main countries where dirty money is invested. According to Imanov, they demand considerable bribes from those who want to invest in Azerbaijan, which deters investors.

Economist Gubad Ibadoglu also does not rule out the existence of such a dangerous phenomenon in Azerbaijan. According to Ibadoglu, the transparency of customs and weakness of control on investments creates a favorable situation in Azerbaijan. Moreover, Azerbaijan is notorious in the world for corruption. Ibadoglu also stressed the bank system in Azerbaijan is weak, which he termed undesirable.

(Babek Bekir)

Pressure On Journalists In Azerbaijan Increases
Yagub Abbasov, Head of the newspaper "Ulus," Surkhay Gojayev, assistant editor of that newspaper and Shahbaz Khuduoglu, editor in chief of the newspaper "Milletin sesi" (The voice of the nation) are in jail. The Nizami District Court ruled on 21 September to sentence Bella Zakirova, a correspondent of the newspaper "Bakinskii Bulvar" and Elman Huseynov, founder of that newspaper to six months in jail. Bella Zakirova's was a suspended sentence. The reason is an article carried by the newspaper, which criticized Baku Mayor Hajibala Abutalibov's activity. The newspaper claimed that the Mayor orders trade kiosks in the city to be demolished, adding to the number of the unemployed.

Lawyer Elton Guliev says that the trial of "Bakinskii Bulvar" employees shows that everything has reached the culmination. He called the ruling of the Nizami District Court disgraceful.

According to Arif Aliev, Head of the "Yeni Nasil" (New Generation) Journalists' Union, Section 19 is applied against journalists although Azerbaijan's state officials have promised the Council of Europe that they will exclude the section from the Law on the Mass Media. Arif Aliyev said the arrests of journalists will continue but they have established a committee for protection of the journalists in jail. The committee plans to hold a conference with participation of foreign ambassadors and representatives of foreign organizations in Azerbaijan. They also plan to issue a common newspaper as a sign of protest against all this. The editors' union has also appealed to Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev to put an end to pressure on journalists.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Pressure On The Azerbaijani Press Yields Results
The pressure campaign on the press in Azerbaijan has produced early results. Irada Huseinova, an employee of the newspaper "Bakinskii Bulvar," provided extensive information about the Azerbaijani government's pressure on journalists at an OSCE event held in Warsaw and asked foreign countries for political asylum. RFE/RL's Azerbaijan service obtained the information from lawyer Saida Gojamanli, who says that society bears the greater responsibility for the pressure on the mass media in Azerbaijan because it silently yields to this pressure. Gojamanli took part in the event together with Huseinova and the latter did not return to Azerbaijan. Gojamanli said that one of the European countries offered political asylum to Huseinova. According to Gojamanli, Huseinova's step is natural because if she stayed in the republic, she would have been arrested.

Ali Kerimli, head of the reformist wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, says that a new front against the press has opened. Maharram Zulfugali, Deputy Chairman of the Azerbaijan National Liberation Party, Rey Kerimoglu, Head of the Press Service of the Society of Karabakh Invalids and Sabir Rustamkhanli, Chairman of the Civil Solidarity Party, whose brother and editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Milletin sesi," Shahbaz Khuduoglu, is in jail, also call the incidents unfair.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Police Attack Another Political Party
Police attacks on the headquarters of different political parties have recently become more frequent. According to the information provided by Fikret Faramazoglu, head of press service of the Civil Unity party led by Azerbaijan's former president Ayaz Mutallibov, on 22 September, the Sebayel Police officials came to the party office demanding them to leave the headquarters. According to Faramazoglu, the party officials demanded the policemen to stop the threats but without success. Then two officials of the party went to the police department to get clarification. Over 500 members of the party gathered outside the party premises, stating they would not give in. Faramazoglu says the policemen claimed that the reason for the attack is that the party has not been registered by the Ministry of Justice.

Civil Unity Party Secretary General Sabir Hajiev called the incident the most recent case of pressure on the party. Hajiev claims that it is connected with the party's rising influence which the government wants to hinder. Hajiev said he does not believe that the government will achieve its goal, ading that party members intend to defend their office till the end. The party officials have already informed Ayaz Mutallibov, the party chairman, who lives in exile now, of this incident.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Can the U.S. Repeal Section 907?
The deadly terrorist acts in New York and Washington D.C. shocked the whole world and brought drastic changes to the foreign policy courses of the world countries. On 24 September, GUUAM-member countries Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova signed a declaration in support of the U.S. The statement condemns the terrorist acts and points out the urgency of joining efforts in order to be protected against terrorist acts. The statement affirmed GUUAM members' readiness to unite in order to combat terrorism and to mobilize efforts to this end. Long before this statement, Azerbaijan declared its solidarity with the U.S. Can Azerbaijan's steps change Washington's position on Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act which bans humanitarian assistance to Azerbaijan at the U.S. government's level? Political observers and experts responded equivocally to this question. According to political scientist Rasim Musabeyov, it is not convincing that Washington will take a special decision for each country expressing support for the U.S. But if Azerbaijan shows a special service in the anti-terror operations, then the U.S. President can repeal Section 907 without the approval of the Congress.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Council of Europe Ministerial Committee Adopted A Decision In Recognition Of Azerbaijan's Territorial Integrity
The autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) began on 24 September in Strasbourg. The CE Ministerial Committee adopted a decision, which confirms recognition of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and declares unacceptable the use of force in order to gain new lands. Political scientist Elkhan Mehdiev thinks that if the issue was put this way, it is a positive case. According to him, the adoption by the CE Ministerial Committee of such a decision shows that CE officials are well aware of the situation in the region and the fact that Armenians want to occupy Azerbaijan's lands forcefully and legalize it.

Pointing out that UN resolutions are more powerful than those of the CE Ministerial Committee, Mehdiev said the UN has not yet recognized Armenia as an aggressor who occupied Azerbaijan's land.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Farhad Mammadov claims in the newspaper "Azadlig" that there will not be any progress soon in negotiations on the status of the Caspian, and that the sides will prefer to pursue a "war of nerves" for a long time. He says the fact that the sides' positions have not changed even slightly reduces the possibility that the Caspian summit will be held this year. The author claims that no joint declaration can be signed if there are differences between the positions of Iran and Turkmenistan on the one hand and the other Caspian littoral states on the other. Mammadov thinks it probable that if Iran does not change its position and retains the intention of seizing some major fields in Azerbaijan�s sector, Turkmenistan will not take steps in this direction either.There is no doubt that Iran and Turkmenistan coordinate their positions on the Caspian. Mammadov expresses doubt there will be any changes take in the Caspian status problem soon, because the regional countries have directed their attention at the international anti-terror operations under preparation in the U.S.

Zulfugar Shahsevenli, in his article "The next outrageous lie" carried by the newspaper "Gunay," writes about the libel campaign Russian television channels regularly wage against Azerbaijan. The author protests about information about the illegal delivery of weapons to Chechnya via Azerbaijan, noting that Russian politicians seek to blame Azerbaijan for all their failures. Shahsevenli thinks that Russian television channels and politicians must put an end to the slander against the independent and sovereign Azerbaijani state.

Bakhtiyar Tunjay writes in the newspaper "525" that the leadership of Armenia and the so-called "Nagorno Karabakh Republic" have been faced with the pressure to withdraw their territorial claims against Azerbaijan. The Armenian leadership knows that such a step will strengthen the opposition's position and will create real danger for their power. The Armenian opposition makes use of every failure and raises its attacks. According to Tunjay, now Kocharyan's terrorism is openly felt in Yerevan, which is under his protection. The author writes that the discussions held in the Council of Europe also prove Armenia is in a hopeless situation.

Rahib Kazimli in his article "The Russian finger" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" comments on the terrorist acts in the U.S. He claims that as soon as the U.S. began preparation for the military operations against Afghanistan, Russians commenced intensive talks with the Northern Alliance fighting against the Taliban regime of that country. On the other hand, Putin's telephone talks with the heads of the Central Asian republics are also at the focus of attention. According to the author, Russians do not want the U.S. to use the territory of any of these republics and Russia, which claims to be against terror, creates obstacles for the elimination of terrorists. The author also writes that Russia is not interested in bin Laden's being killed by the U.S. Therefore it is now impossible to ignore the statements about Russians' connection with the terrorist acts in the U.S.

Azerbaijan's ex parliament speaker and the head of the Azerbaijan Democratic Party (ADP) Rasul Guliev in his interview with the newspaper "Ekho" offers an explanation for the failure of other opposition parties to support the actions of protest held by ADP. According to him, other opposition parties take precautions and do not support them. As to other opposition parties' rejecting ADP actions, Guliev notes that the opposition parties assume the regime will collapse by itself. Therefore they preserve their forces for such a situation.

Zahid Miralioglu, in his commentary "Kind enemies" carried by the newspaper "Hurriyyet," writes about the accusations levelled by Fezail Aghamali, Chairman of the Ana Vatan (Motherland) Party against Ramiz Mehdiev, Head of the Presidential Office. The author asks why Mehdiev is "treated" to such accusations time and again, but then they are refuted. According to Miralioglu, Azerbaijani President Aliyev raises the issue of Mehdiev through a third party then refutes those claims by others' statements and thus bolsters Mehdiev's confidence. The author claims that Aliyev still needs Mehdiev in the issues regarding perspectives of the government and postpones his plan regarding Mehdiev. According to Miralioglu, Aliyev will not touch the rivals around him until he implements "the successor plan".

Vafadar, in his commentary "YAP must strengthen" carried by the newspaper "Alternativ," claims that at the November congress of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party the process of cleansing the party from alien forces will begin. In order to weaken the influence on inter-party processes by the persons, who have long been the party members, their authorities will be restricted. According to the author, YAP's upcoming congress signals the further strengthening of the party. As the party chairman Heydar Aliyev is not satisfied with the passive activity of the party leadership, he has considered it necessary to hold a mid-term congress. According to the author, Aliyev does not take such steps in vain.

Mammadli writes in the newspaper "Tezadlar" that almost all studies in the pro-government organizations have Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev's bust or portrait in which the president mainly smiles. The author wonders whether those who have hung the portraits in their studies understand the meaning of this smile. As stated by the author, everybody knows very well those who hang the president' portrait in their study rooms as a sign of loyalty but are against the president's ideals in reality. When they are dismissed, they pursue anti-Aliyev propaganda.

Anar Orujoglu, in a commentary entitled "Russia wants to leave the West behind" carried by the newspaper "Ulus," writes that Moscow has begun demonstrating particular cooperation in order to defend its existence in the Caucasus. Washington's determination to protect its geo-strategic interests after the terrorist acts in the U.S. has caused serious concern in Russia. According to the author, Russia wants to leave behind the West this way. Orujoglu notes in conclusion that the terrorist acts have made Azerbaijan give up its "balanced policy" between the West, Russia and Iran.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)