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Azerbaijan Report: October 15, 2001

15 October 2001
Journalists Postponed Their Meeting
The health of Shahbaz Khuduoglu, editor-in- chief of the newspaper "Milletin sesi" (The voice of the nation ) and the magazine "Ganun" (Law), has deteriorated. The control has intensified on Khoduoglu, who is kept in Shuvelan prison, and restrictions have been imposed on delivery of the parcels to him, Khuduoglu's lawyer Seyyad Mammadov told RFE/RL's Azerbaijan service. Mammadov said that the reason for the intensification of control on the jailed journalist is not known. Mammadov says that he has made an appeal regarding the ruling of the Narimanov court which he said is unfair. On 10 October, the Court of Appeals held a preparation session and the case will be considered on 22 October.

Shahbaz Khuduoglu was arrested for an article in "Milletin sesi" about presidential administration head Ramiz Mehdiev. Khuduoglu was sentenced to six months in jail, the newspaper was shut down, the author of the article got a suspended sentence of three months in jail and criminal proceedings were instituted against the editor of the newspaper.

At some five journalists are in jail, two women journalists have received suspended sentences of three months in jail, and two newspapers have been shut down. The committee for protection of the freedom of expression has appealed to the Baku municipal authorities but received a negative answer. The opposition papers and law-defense organizations of the republic gathered on 11 October and discussed the answer of the Baku mayor's office. Taking precautions against the possible police violence on the meeting makers, the committee postponed the planned meeting.

(Natig Zeynalov)

Another Azerbaijani Journalist Is Persecuted
Pressure on journalists continues in Azerbaijan. Heydar Oguz, an employee of the newspaper "Hurriyyet," is threatened for his article on the situation in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. In an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijan service, Oguz said that he went to Nakhchivan in connection with the actions of protest of the Azerbaijan Democrat Party and wrote about the physical pressure Sabuhi Novruzov, head of the Nakhchivan Police department exerted on those who were arrested during the actions of protest. Oguz reported in the article that some days after the incidents, Novruzov's brother died in an automobile accident and the people of the city called it God's punishment. Oguz says that Nakhchivan officials call this expression the author's position. After the article was published, Nakhchivan officials phoned Oguz summoning him to Nakhchivan to settle the matter. They threaten that if he does not come voluntarily, they will come to Baku and kill him.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Azerbaijan-Based Institute Works On An Anti-Terror Program
A scientific-practical conference "The Azerbaijan Republic in combating international terrorism" was held on 11 October at the National Academy of Sciences. Lectures on "Armenian terrorism is a global danger for human rights", "The legal basis for conducting anti-terror operations in Azerbaijan's occupied territories after the 11 September terrorist acts", "The role of the Azerbaijan Republic in combating terrorism" were delivered. It was pointed out that the Human Rights Institute of the National Academy of Sciences has worked on an anti-terror program for over one year. The institute held discussions on "Armenian terror organizations are dangerous for peace and stability in our planet" and called Armenia a country pursuing terror policy.

In his remarks to the conference, Human Rights Institute head Rovshan Mustafayev said that the anti-terror program drafted by the expert council of the institute envisages elimination of the corridors which are out of Azerbaijan's, as well as the Council of Europe's jurisdiction. The scientific researches have proven that the corridors are used for drugs-trafficking and the training of extremist groups.

The conference participants put forth certain recommendations regarding the anti-terror program. The recommendations suggest that the Azerbaijan Republic should appeal to international organizations and the world countries and declare that Armenia is a country pursuing a secret terror policy. Documents proving the Nagorno Karabakh army's terrorist separatist actions must be obtained and the world community must be called to combat these actions.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Azerbaijani Expert Comments On The U.S. Operations In Afghanistan
According to the agency "Trend", the foreign ministers of the Islamic Conference Organization member countries met in Qatar and released a report condemning terrorism. According to Elkhan Mehdiyev, Head of the center for settlement of conflicts, if the anti-terror operations lasts for one year as President Bush says, but Bin Laden and his supporters are not captured, then disagreements will begin not only in Moslem countries but also in Europe and America. Mehdiyev notes that the U.S. has never had any intention of waging war in Afghanistan, it has taken the step to capture and eliminate terrorists.

As for the information regarding the deployment of land forces and that the U.S. will be faced with what the former Soviet Union once faced, Mehdiyev says that the Talibs think highly of themselves, then all the countries being against the USSR helped them.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Azerbaijani Parliament Meets
On 12 October the Azerbaijani parliament discussed amendments and changes to some legislative acts.

Referring to the law on vulnerable children and those deprived of parents' care, parliament deputy Sabir Rustamkhanli said that the law they have adopted does not work now and it is necessary to take care of this group of children.

The law on library work was also discussed in the session. The members of the parliament suggested that copies of all books published in Azerbaijan should be distributed to state libraries.

Parliament deputy Vagif Samadoglu told journalists after the session that an amnesty decree is expected to be issued in connection with the 10th anniversary of Azerbaijan's state independence. Samadoglu said that he will campaign for such prisoners as Isgandar Hamidov, Fahmin Hajiyev and Faraj Guliev to be pardoned.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Will Azerbaijan Launch Anti-Terror Operations?
The U.S. anti-terror operations in Afghanistan have increased Russia's appetite in the Caucasus, independent expert Zafar Najafli claims. He believes Russia feels that favorable conditions have appeared for it to strengthen its positions in the Caucasus. The country must withdraw its army from Georgia in near future. On the other hand, the priority of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline for delivery of the Caspian oil to world markets has changed the situation in the region in the West's favor. Najafli claims that Russia has no alternative, noting that the war in Afghanistan is also a chance for Russia. Najafli notes that Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's visit to the U.S. when the anti-terror campaign began was quite unexpected for Russia. In a later development, the situation in Abkhazia became tenser. Now, the situation has reached such an extent that the issue of Georgia's remaining in CIS is under discussion. Najafly recalls that the population living in Kodori are mainly ethnic Chechens. Taking use of this fact, Russia accuses Georgia of protecting terrorist forces.

Azerbaijan's former foreign minister Tofig Zulfugarov thinks that Russia has always wanted to make use of the conflict centers in the Caucasus. According to Zulfugarov, if Russia tries again to intensify the problems in Georgia and Azerbaijan, it will result in the region's getting far away from it but Georgia must also recognize the responsibility of the steps it will take.

The same situation exists in Azerbaijan as well. Some people point out the urgency of launching anti-terror operations in Nagorno Karabakh. The most interesting thing is that the Minister of Internal Affairs has declared the possibility of launching anti-terror operations. But the first vice-president of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, Ilham Aliev, has disapproved of the idea. Azerbaijani society is not used to such difference in state officials' positions and it raises the doubts about the seriousness of their statements.

(Babek Bekir)

Will Section 907 Be Repealed?
Azerbaijanis living in the U.S. are calling for the repeal of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which bans humanitarian assistance to Azerbaijan on the governmental level. To this end, Azerbaijanis living in the U.S. have sent appeals to each member of the Senate. RFE/RL's Azerbaijan service obtained the information from Teymur Eminbeili, Deputy Head of the Steering Board of the World Azerbaijanis' Congress.

Pointing out that Azerbaijan has also been subjected to terrorism, Eminbeili says that Azerbaijan is a country backing anti-terror operations and has been subjected to Armenian terror for years. Eminbeili thinks that the U.S. must conduct serious discussions on the repeal of Section 907.

Azerbaijan's former state advisor Vafa Guluzade says that the U.S. did not take the decision independently. The political scientist recalled that it was the Armenian Assembly which prepared Section 907. Guluzade says that the U.S. adopted the section without discussions when it had no imagination about Azerbaijan. According to Guluzade, it has now become difficult to adopt this section because the Armenian lobby has strong means of pressure on the Congress. Besides, the repeal of any decision of the Congress takes much time.

Matin Mirza, head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press service, said that certain work is underway to repeal Section 907. According to Mirza, President Heydar Aliyev also held talks on different levels to this end.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Missionary Organizations In Azerbaijan
The Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security released last spring an alarming report about the activity of missionary organizations in Azerbaijan, which almost shocked our republic. It was the first time that Azerbaijan's official bodies declared illegal the activity of some Christian and Moslem countries in Azerbaijan. Although much time has elapsed since, it would be naive to claim any serious turn in this sphere. According to the information from Azerbaijan's remote districts, there are some mosques and religious organizations not registered by state, which continue their missionary activity in the republic. The illegal activity of such organizations is not limited to mosques and other centers for teaching religious knowledge, they proselytize in camps for displaced persons as well.

According to Colonel Lieutenant Mahmud Hajiyev, an independent expert of the Scientific Practical Legal center, the above fact has yielded very serious results. According to the expert, the economic state of the people is very hard and national tragedies have created a pessimistic mood among the people. No ideological work with the people is carried out. As stated by Mahmud Hajiyev, although the issue was raised last spring on quite a serious level, the struggle against it did not give the expected result. Because the separate structures carried out certain work but the state did not launch complex steps.

Neriman Gasimoglu, one of the translators of the Holy Koran, also thinks that the settlement of the issue depends on the state, there is no need for anybody to come from abroad and propagate Islam here. Gasimoglu notes that the majority of missionary organizations engaged in the propaganda of Islam give preference to illegal activity.

(Babek Bekir)

Rashidoglu writes in the newspaper "Zerkalo" that Moscow wants to again take under control the situation in Georgia and Azerbaijan. The first reason is that Georgia intends to leave the Commonwealth of the Independent States (CIS). The second reason is that the Russian peace-keeping forces are taken out of Abkhazia. According to the author, both the issues were discussed in the Georgian parliament with the Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's participation. The author notes that Russia tries to strengthen its position in all of the CIS countries and is concerned about the state of Russians living in CIS countries. The Congress of Countrymen has recently begun its activity in Moscow. President Putin made a speech to the forum.What is behind it will become clear one of these days.

Azerbaijan's former state advisor Vafa Guluzade in an interview with the newspaper "Yeni Azerbaijan" stated that Azerbaijan has a right to restore its territorial integrity in a military way. He said Russia challenges Azerbaijan in the issue of territorial integrity and such operations will cost Azerbaijan dearly. On the other hand, as long as Azerbaijan is engaged in the operations in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan's situation will remain dangerous. Vafa Guluzade stated in conclusion that Russia can do what it wants in the present situation in Azerbaijan.

Musavat deputy head Sulheddin Akbar in an interview with the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" noted that Azerbaijan will not launch anti-terror operations. Akbar thinks that Heydar Aliyev fears that his power in the country can be weakened. If Heydar Aliyev launches anti-terror operations, it is possible to restrict his political freedoms. According to Akbar, Aliyev can govern his poor and repressed people without armies. Akbar claims that the Azerbaijani President is not expected to take any step against the enemy.

Heydar Oguz writes in the newspaper "Hurriyyet" that moral repression in Azerbaijan can result in confrontation among citizens. He said both ordinary citizens and media representatives in Azerbaijan are subjected to moral pressure. Oguz writes about such pressure in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. According to Oguz, the moral repression which has targeted social relationships in Nakhchivan will soon yield bitter results. Oguz writes that he has the informed relevant bodies of these incidents noting that they must hurry to take steps to this end.

Genimet Zahidov in an article "Afghan campaign" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" writes that the operations launched by the U.S. have infuriated the world's Moslems. The issue is widely discussed in Azerbaijan. Some people even interpret the operations as a fight against Azerbaijan. It is known that soon after World War III, "the Cold War" intensified between the U.S. and USSR and laid the basis for the division of Europe into spheres of influence and the fight in the Near East for influence. Extremist groupings were also divided between the U.S. and USSR. The author writes that the superpowers used those organizations for the sake of mutual interests. After the Islamic states appeared, the organizations gravitated out of the control of the U.S. and USSR dropped into that of Moslem countries.

Akif Humbatov in an article "The politician who is the guarantor of our independence" carried by the newspaper "525" speaks about Ilham Aliev's political successes. The author claims that the recent political processes in Azerbaijan have proved that Ilham Aliyev is a leader able to take the people after him. The author calls Ilham Aliyev a reliable and skillful politician noting that the president's son is the guarantor for Azerbaijan's independence.

An article "Ilham Aliyev has no chance of being elected president" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" reports the results of a kind of poll conducted by the information agency "Turan". The newspaper writes that Ilham Aliev's participation in next presidential elections has already been settled. It is pointed out in the article that the persons and the mass media close to the government are working to this end. In response to the question "How real is the restoration of neo-monarchy in Azerbaijan?" some 20.6 percent of the respondents said it is real, some 17.6 percent said the possibility is quite low and some 47.1 percent said the possibility is high. Another question focuses on Ilham Aliev's political qualities. Some 11.8 percent of the respondents consider Aliyev a person with political qualities; some 17.6 percent consider him to be person with high political qualities. One third of the society know Ilham Aliyev as the Azerbaijani president's son and say that his chances are equal to those of his father. In response to the question "What does the Azerbaijani people expect from Ilham Aliev's presidency?" some 24.7 percent of the respondents said they expect something positive, some 26.5 percent claimed that nothing will change, some 22.4 percent declared that the situation will become harder, some 17.6 percent thinks the situation will become aggravated.

Anarticle entitled "Azerbaijanis are being drawn into a horrible tragedy" carried by the newspaper "168 saat" (168 hours) refers to the activity of religious missionary organizations in Azerbaijan. The author, Fazil Talibly, writes that in order to counter the influence of religious missionaries, it is necessary to hinder their means of propaganda. According to the author, the Ministry of Education, official religious bodies, their heads, as well as independent and state televisions must work to this end.

Rauf Arifoglu writes in the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" that presently, the accusation "the president's man" causes a harsher reaction than any ruling of the court. When the politicians we criticize do not find serious grounds to accuse us, they call us "the president's man". But the strange and surprising case is that the process is proceeding parallel to government officials' efforts to create a basis for such accusations. Thus, government officials also think that in order to eliminate a rival, it is necessary to create the opinion that he cooperates with the Aliyev regime. Arifoglu advises opposition leaders not to lose sight of that fact.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)