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Azerbaijan Report: October 19, 2001

19 October 2001
Azerbaijani Opposition Doubts Expenditure Of U.S. Allotted Funds
The possible repeal of Section 907 and the need for the U.S. government to assist Azerbaijan in combatting terrorism has been accepted positively in Azerbaijan, but there is certain concern about the issue as well. The leaders of Azerbaijan's opposition parties think that the government will use the campaign against terrorism for defeating its rivals. Some issues give grounds for concern, and that regarding the Islamic Revival organization is one of them. Azerbaijan's law enforcement bodies claim that the Kuwait-based organization has contacts with terrorist forces. They stress that the Islamic Revival organization was registered in 1994 when Ilyas Ismailov, now Chairman of the opposition Adalat Party, was Minister of Justice.

According to Ismailov, Azerbaijan's law enforcement bodies are engaged not in professional activity but pure politics. He said not the laws but the ruling clan's interests govern these bodies. Ismailov claims that the law enforcement bodies can present any citizen of the country as a terrorist or a person supporting terrorists, adding that U.S. officials would do well to bear this in mind. He agreed that financial assistance is good, but said certain controls must be introduced on the expenditure of these funds.

Mubariz Gurbanli, Deputy Executive Secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, said there is no need for the opposition to worry about the issue because it is also dangerous for Azerbaijan's interests. He said it means not only shadowing the Azerbaijani government's activity but also depreciating the U.S. positive initiative. Gurbanli says that irrespective of Azerbaijani officials' intentions, the U.S. will not allow its funds to be used for the suppression of democracy and human rights.

(Babek Bekir)

Three Azerbaijani Journalists Released From Jail
In connection with the Independence Day, Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev ordered the release from jail of three journalists. They are Shahbaz Khuduoglu, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Milletin sesi" (The voice of the nation), Elmar Huseinov, founder of the newspaper "Bakinskii Bulvar" and Shahlar Mammadov, Director of the publishing house "Baku Printing Press." Huseinov and Khuduoglu held a press conference on 19 October stating that their struggle has not come to an end.

Khuduoglu claims that he was arrested illegally, on instructions from a government official, and implicated the presidential administration head. Khuduoglu characterized his release and that of his colleagues as a victory for the press and for local and international human rights organizations. Noting that they do not try to obtain information about the life of any state official, Khuduoglu pointed out that a government official must provide information about the government's activity and conditions must be created so that a government official refusing to give journalists information should be brought to trial.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Azerbaijan Democratic Party Stages Action Of Protest
The Azerbaijan Democratic Party plans to stage on 20 October an action of protest in front of the Galaba (Victory) cinema. According to Aydin Guliev, the party's secretary for ideology, the Baku municipal authorities have given consent for the meeting at which participants will put forth different demands, first and foremost to improve living standards.He said the Azerbaijan Democratic Party will not consent to one tribe destroying the country's wealth.

Guliev said that although some journalists have been released from jail, other arrested journalists remain in jail. Besides, no guarantee has been ensured that there will not be a new repression. According to Guliev, if no reaction is given to these issues, they will put forth demands for resignation of some government officials during their future actions of protest.

Guliev does not rule out that the issue of combatting terrorism will also be raised during the protest. The ADP thinks that the Azerbaijani government should always keep Azerbaijan's national interests at the focus of attention

(Babek Bekir)

Adalat Party Members Are Still Under Arrest
Adalat party Chairman Ilyas Ismailov together with heads of law defence organizations held a press conference on 19 October in the Human Rights Resource center regarding the party members who were arrested on 19 September. On 10 September, Sumgayit police officials sealed the party office claiming that the party is not registered with the Ministry of Justice. But the party members considered it illegal, opened the doors and held a meeting. Then the Sumgayit police officials again came to the office, arrested some ten members of the party and took them to the police department. Some seven of the arrested party members were released, but criminal proceedings were brought against three of them and each of them was sentenced to one month in jail.

According to Ismailov, the government's position against parties contributes to keeping the society in a state of fear, and such pressure has been directed against all opposition parties.

Saida Gojamanli, Head of the Bureau for Protection of Human Rights and Law, said that human rights have frequently been violated in Azerbaijan after the country was accepted into the Council of Europe. According to Leyla Yunus, Head of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, immediately after the three journalists were arrested, the information was sent to foreign embassies and organizations working in Azerbaijan and included in a report of the Council of Europe Monitoring Group.

(Maarif Chingizoglu)

Azerbaijani Parliament Meets
At its 19 October session the Azerbaijani parliament session discussed a number of issues. Ali Karimli, Chairman of the reformers' branch of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, stated that the law on political parties is brutally violated in Azerbaijan. Kerimli said employees of state organizations are forced to join the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party. Kerimli claimed that the activity of political parties is suspended in Azerbaijan or they are not registered.

The parliament members made changes to the Law on the Central Election Commission and authorized it to hold referendums.

There was made a proposal that an institute on law building should be established under the Azerbaijan parliament. Because the sociopolitical developments grow rapidly and the parliament commissions cannot manage the law-building activity.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

Developments In Georgia And Their Impact On Azerbaijan
Local experts claim that developments in Georgia will affect Azerbaijan. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has also expressed a warning opinion in his talk with Azerbaijani reporters. He said that Azerbaijan must be as interested in stabilizing the situation in Georgia as Armenia is. Will the developments in Georgia affect Azerbaijan? We put that question to a number of officials and independent experts and received different answers.

Azerbaijan's former foreign minister Tofig Zulfugarov thinks that the developments have no direct connection with Azerbaijan. He said developments in Georgia will not create any danger for the oil and gas pipelines passing through this territory. Expressing approval of Georgia's position on Abkhazia, Zulfugarov thinks that Azerbaijan should defend the proposal to deployment an international peace-keeping force.

Mubariz Ahmadoglu, Head of the Political Technologies and Innovation Center, thinks that the developments in Georgia directly concern and carry great significance for Azerbaijan. According to Ahmadoglu, the developments demonstrate the international community's position. Ahmadoglu thinks that developments will make Russia realize the statements it has released up to now.

Political scientist Rasim Musabeyov thinks that the developments in Georgia have a certain impact on Azerbaijan and we should not forget that Georgia is Azerbaijan's gateway to the West. Rustam Mammadov, a department head in the Presidential Office, thinks that the developments in Georgia have no direct concern with Azerbaijan. Mammadov thinks that the Georgian officials can settle the problem soon and easily. According to Mammadov, the only concern is the oil and gas pipelines, but it is not a serious problem. The Georgian government can control developments in the republic, Mammadov said, and this should reassure Azerbaijan.

(Zhale Mutallimova)

Azerbaijan's Ex-President Spoke To RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service
Ayaz Mutallibov, the first president of the independent Azerbaijan Republic, thinks that Azerbaijan has lost more than it gained over the ten years of its independence. In an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijan service on 18 October, the anniversary of the declaration of Independence by the Azerbaijani parliament, Mutallibov noted that the Azerbaijan economy could have overcome the crisis period over these years provided that conditions were created for entrepreneurship, and corruption could have been prevented from growing into a major problem. According to Mutallibov, as the republican economy could not overcome the crisis, the country citizens were obliged to leave the republic. Mutallibov claims that the number of citizens leaving Azerbaijan is greater than from any other country of the former Soviet Union. He estimates the number of Azerbaijanis in Russia as greater than the number of Uzbeks, Kyrgyz and Turkmen combined. But Mutallibov regards Azerbaijan's future with optimism because Azerbaijan is rich in natural and moral resources. He said the Azerbaijani people should take the initiative and not entrust its fate to one or two people.

Referring to the reasons why he still lives in exile, Mutallibov says it is connected with the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev's tendentious attitude to him. Mutallibov also thanked those Azerbaijanis who attended the funeral of his father.

Mutallibov congratulated the Azerbaijan people on the Independence Day.

(Zerkhanim Akhmedli)

The newspaper "Hurriyyet" carries an article entitled "Heydar Aliev's secret decree." The newspaper writes that the agency "Turan" quite accidentally obtained Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev's decree N 587 dated 11 October 2001 which envisages that the validity of privatization checks is extended till 1 July 2004. The Ministry for Economic Development confirmed the existence of such a decree. According to the newspaper, it was impossible to learn the position of relevant bodies in this regard but those bodies said that they are not aware of the signing of such a decree. According to the document they have, the validity of the privatization checks has been extended till 1 January 2002.

Gabil Abbasoglu in an article "The government prepares to political bargain" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that the government has no other way than implementing the successor plan. According to Heydar Aliev's plans, propaganda to bringing the successor to power must be implemented so seriously and skillfully that the society should accept the final outcome of the process. But the number of those within the government team who are aware of the scenario has risen. According to those circles, none of the centers of force in the team accepts the successor. The author writes that establishment of ties with the opposition parties is a key part of the successor plan. After the November session of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, appeals will be made to determine the final position of the opposition parties.

An article entitled "Political ambitions and national interests" carried by the newspaper "Azadlig" reads that the 11 September terrorist acts in the U.S. and politicians' attitudes to the terrorist acts underscored the civil approach to the issues of political opponents and national interests in the republic. The author recalls that at the last presidential elections in the U.S. the rival parties-Democrats and Republicans levelled serious accusations against each other. But what is the situation in Azerbaijan in this regard? The newspaper writes that neither the political leaders nor the citizens of the country, which has been subjected to Armenian aggression, can unite. Each successive post-independence leadership in Azerbaijan was removed by unconstitutional means. The author claims that at certain periods, the opposition and the government seriously and jointly struggled in the Nagorno Karabakh issue. But regretfully, Azerbaijan's national interests are now sacrificed for political goals.

The newspaper "Hurriyyet" carries an interview with Arif Hajiev, Musavat Party Secretary for Organization Issues. Hajiev says that the ruling tribe's neo-monarchist plans will be thwarted in near future. Referring to the national liberation movement that began in Azerbaijan some ten years ago, Hajiev says that in 1991 when the constitutional act on independence was adopted, some 43 members of the parliament voted against the proposal to hold a referendum on declararing independence. Hajiev did not mention specific names, but noted that those persons now occupy certain posts in the government. According to Hajiev, today we have freedom and independence but there are also problems regarding Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, democracy and the people's welfare. The ten years of our independence seems hard and painful to us but it is a short period of time from the historical standpoint, he said. Hajiev claims that the Azerbaijan people will see in the near future good solutions to the problems they have experienced up to now.

Zamin Haji in an article "The most independent person" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that our oil goes to the West, but our Nagorno Karabakh is under the Armenians' influence. We can see any state's aircraft in our sky at any time. The U.S. aircraft came after the Iranian ones. There is also Section 907 to the Freedom Support Act, which bans the U.S. governmental assistance to Azerbaijan. In such conditions there is no need to celebrate our independence. Haji claims that there are persons who directly experience independence. For instance, Azerbaijani men head to Russia to find independent jobs, but Azerbaijani women independently earn money in the hotels of Turkey and Dubai. The members of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party say that Heydar Aliyev has gained independence for Azerbaijan. The author says they are right, Heydar Aliyev is the most independent person in Azerbaijan. According to Haji, YAP members link with Heydar Aliev's name Azerbaijan's gaining independence and even all the historical processes that took place in the republic before he came to power. YAP members say that Aliyev has created our history and he will create our future.

The newspaper "Azadlig" reports referring to Azerbaijan's National Security Minister Namig Abbasov that a coup d'etat is expected in Azerbaijan. The Minister said that the Ministry for National Security has prevented five coup d'etats without shedding any blood. According to Abbasov, persons who were trained in a number of foreign countries including Armenia have been invited to take part in the coup d'etat. The newspaper writes it is clear that intelligence bodies from Russia, Iran and Armenia try to commit sabotage in Azerbaijan, but there are no grounds for the rumors about the next coup d'etat. Mounting a coup d'etat is not easy. It is absurd to claim that forces without a social base could plot a coup d'etat. The newspaper writes that it is high time for Azerbaijan to call everything by its own name, and it is not right to identify every incident of sabotage as preparation for a coup d'etat.

Khalid Kazimli in an article "The apprehension of the old conqueror" carried by the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that the government forces the people to celebrate Independence Day on a high level even though they may not be in a holiday mood . Certainly, it is not difficult to celebrate the day for a minister, and Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev is one of those persons. The author writes that state television and government newspapers connect Azerbaijan's existence with Aliev's name and activities. But Azerbaijan de-facto gained its independence without Aliev's services. The author writes that when the decision to hold a referendum on preserving the USSR was being adopted in 1991, Heydar Aliyev and his supporters joined the democrats and voted against it. But Aliyev took that step not because he was eager to have freedom, but he wanted to spite the Kremlin and Ayaz Mutallibov, the then president of Azerbaijan.

The newspaper "Ekho" carries an interview with jailed Azerbaijani businessman Frenk Elkaponi, who claims that he has obtained information about the steps to be taken against him. Elkaponi says this could prove to be his last interview to the press, noting that if the Azerbaijani community reacts to this injustice, the unfair attitude to him can change. Elkaponi says he will not be the only person accused of unfair charges and begs for help. Elkaponi claims that he has no interests in the Azerbaijani Diaspora in Russia or others' activity, he only wants to be fairly tried. According to Elkaponi, his lawyer says that he can be released from jail if tried fairly.

Samir Eyyuboglu writes in the newspaper "525" that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a letter to the Congress asking for the lifting of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act which bans the U.S. governmental assistance to Azerbaijan. According to Washington-based diplomatic sources, U.S. vice-president Richard Cheney, tNational Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, as well as some advisors to the US President have appealed to President Bush to lift Section 907. The majority of American politicians and experts unequivocally admit that keeping �907� in force prevents Washington from realizing its interests in the Southern Caucasus.

(Compiled and translated by Arifa Alieva)