Accessibility links

The Political Rise Of Azerbaijan's First Lady

Is Mehriban Aliyeva, the formidable first lady of Azerbaijan, being groomed for the presidency? Some observers, looking at her recent promotion to the upper echelons of her husband's political party, say it's a distinct possibility. Here's a look back at Mehriban's life both before and during her marriage to President Ilham Aliyev. (12 PHOTOS)

Mehriban Aliyeva with her mother, Aida Imanguliyeva, one of the first women in the Soviet Union to earn a doctoral degree in Oriental studies.
1

Mehriban Aliyeva with her mother, Aida Imanguliyeva, one of the first women in the Soviet Union to earn a doctoral degree in Oriental studies.

Mehriban (right) and her sister Nargiz with their parents, Arif Pashayev and Aida Imanguliyeva. Pashayev now serves as rector of Baku's National Aviation Academy; Nargiz heads the Azerbaijani branch of Moscow State University.
2

Mehriban (right) and her sister Nargiz with their parents, Arif Pashayev and Aida Imanguliyeva. Pashayev now serves as rector of Baku's National Aviation Academy; Nargiz heads the Azerbaijani branch of Moscow State University.

Ilham Aliyev with Mehriban in April 1983, shortly before their marriage.
3

Ilham Aliyev with Mehriban in April 1983, shortly before their marriage.

Aliyev family portrait: former President Heydar Aliyev (center), surrounded (left to right) by his daughter, Sevil; son-in-law; wife Zarifa; granddaughter; and his son, current President Ilham Aliyev with his future wife, Mehriban.
4

Aliyev family portrait: former President Heydar Aliyev (center), surrounded (left to right) by his daughter, Sevil; son-in-law; wife Zarifa; granddaughter; and his son, current President Ilham Aliyev with his future wife, Mehriban.

Heydar Aliyev (center) pictured with Ilham, Mehriban (right), and the couple's two daughters, Arzu (left) and Leyla.
5

Heydar Aliyev (center) pictured with Ilham, Mehriban (right), and the couple's two daughters, Arzu (left) and Leyla.

Mehriban Aliyeva meeting with Russian first lady Lyudmila Putina in Baku in September 2003.
6

Mehriban Aliyeva meeting with Russian first lady Lyudmila Putina in Baku in September 2003.

Ilham and Mehriban attending Norouz festivities in Baku.
7

Ilham and Mehriban attending Norouz festivities in Baku.

Aliyeva accepting an honorary professorship from the I.M. Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy in Moscow, where she attended university.
8

Aliyeva accepting an honorary professorship from the I.M. Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy in Moscow, where she attended university.

Mehriban (center) attends a presentation by "Nargis" magazine in January 2013 with her daughters, Leyla (right) and Arzu. U.S. diplomats have been cited in Wikileaks documents as expressing confusion between mother and daughters, fueling rumors that Aliyeva and her daughters may have undergone plastic surgery.
9

Mehriban (center) attends a presentation by "Nargis" magazine in January 2013 with her daughters, Leyla (right) and Arzu. U.S. diplomats have been cited in Wikileaks documents as expressing confusion between mother and daughters, fueling rumors that Aliyeva and her daughters may have undergone plastic surgery.

Aliyeva, who has used her role as first lady to support a wide range of charities, opening a newly rebuilt education facility in Azerbaijan.
10

Aliyeva, who has used her role as first lady to support a wide range of charities, opening a newly rebuilt education facility in Azerbaijan.

Ilham Aliyev has described his wife as "the most beautiful woman in Azerbaijan."
11

Ilham Aliyev has described his wife as "the most beautiful woman in Azerbaijan."

"A woman is a woman, even if she is the president's wife," Aliyev has said. "She is a guarantor of peace, harmony, and love in the family."
12

"A woman is a woman, even if she is the president's wife," Aliyev has said. "She is a guarantor of peace, harmony, and love in the family."

XS
SM
MD
LG