Accessibility links

Breaking News

Former Azerbaijani Official Makes Comeback With 'Resistance Movement'

BAKU -- Exiled former Azerbaijani parliamentary speaker Rasul Quliyev has called on Azerbaijanis to join his newly founded "resistance movement," RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Quliyev is a longtime opposition activist who broke with the ruling regime in 1996. In a video posted on YouTube, he says he resigned from the speaker's post in 1996 as a protest against then-President Heydar Aliyev, who Quliyev was largely responsible for bringing to power three years earlier.

"In these years since I [fled the country] I have tried to achieve some changes in Azerbaijan with your help," he says. "Regretably, all elections held in Azerbaijan since 1995 have been falsified and the overall level of corruption of the [ruling] regime has increased since 1996. No state institution is independent in Azerbaijan... [It] is living through the Middle Ages now."

Quliyev, 64, added that everything of consequence in the country is decided by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Heydar's son.

"People's salaries are raised by the padshah's decision...[People] are imprisoned, released, or pardoned by the ruler. There is no [rule of law] in Azerbaijan," he said.

Quliyev, who lives in the United States, predicts in the video that if such
conditions remain in Azerbaijan, then "chaotic and destructive protests can arise, blood can be shed, foreign intervention could take place and [the country] could lose even more territory than it has since 1991," a reference to Armenian forces taking control of the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh and several surrounding areas after a war with Azerbaijan.

In the video, Quliyev announces the establishment of a "resistance movement" and appeals to the Azerbaijani people to join him.

"To counter all these negative cases, I want to use new [Internet] technology and establish the 'resistance movement'...I have established a blog to share my opinions with readers," he said. "I want the government to feel that it will not be able to falsify elections from now on. We have to prevent the authorities from doing so."

Aliyev's second term ends in 2013 but amendments to the Azerbaijani Constitution have abolished term limits for the presidential post, allowing Aliyev to run as many times as he wishes.

Vaqif Mahmudov, the chairman of Quliyev's Open Society Party, told RFE/RL that the video appeal "aims to get the Azerbaijani people to settle their fate through elections and to show public resistance in achieving this goal."

Quliyev chaired parliament from 1993 to 1996, when he resigned and was forced to resign from the ruling party. He then moved to the United States and became a vocal critic of Heydar Aliyev and his government.

Quliyev has also published books lambasting the Aliyev family's rule.

Azerbaijani officials have accused him of corruption, embezzlement of state property, and other economic crimes. Quliyev attempted to return to Azerbaijan in 2005 ahead of parliamentary elections but his plane was not allowed to land in Baku.

He has been largely quiet since issuing his video on YouTube announcing the "resistance movement."

Some opposition officials have said it would be more useful for Quliyev's cause if he would join the opposition's already established Public Chamber.