The Supreme Court sentenced former Prime Minister Suret Huseinov to life imprisonment for high treason and drug trafficking, among other offenses. The Russian-tilting Huseinov took power in a coup in June 1993, backed by a private army largely raised with his own and Russian resources. The coup enabled the current president, Haidar Aliev, to return to power as parliamentary chairman. Within a year, however, Aliev forced Huseinov into exile in Russia, whence he was extradited in 1997. Huseinov’s conviction marks the decline of Russian influence in Azerbaijan. Last week the minister of defense told a Russian magazine that Azerbaijan wants a “special partnership” and a formal agreement with NATO, as well as a bilateral alliance with Turkey to counter Russia’s alliance with Armenia.