The Milli Majlis (parliament) of Azerbaijan voted yesterday to authorize criminal proceedings against the former chairman of parliament, Rasul Guliev. Chief Prosecutor Eldar Hasanov told the chamber that Guliev had embezzled and misappropriated $23 million, mainly through sweetheart deals with foreign importers of Azerbaijani crude oil and oil products during the early 1990s.
In those years, Guliev managed oil-processing plants and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, eventually becoming deputy prime minister responsible for the oil industry. Hasanov said that ninety alleged accomplices of Guliev from the Foreign Trade Ministry, the railways and the Customs Department have been arrested in connection with those deals. Hasanov also told the parliament that Baku seeks to have Guliev extradited from the United States. (Turan, Reuter, April 7)
Elected as chairman of parliament in 1993, Guliev was second only to President Haidar Aliev in power and influence in Azerbaijan. He resigned from that post "for medical reasons" and left the country in September 1996 first for Britain and then for the United States. He has since published the books "Oil and Politics" and "The Road to Democracy" criticizing Aliev’s policies and the conditions in Azerbaijan. Last December, the Milli Majlis deprived Guliev of his deputy’s mandate for failure to attend the sessions. In January of this year, Guliev declared himself a candidate in the upcoming presidential election, began propagandizing in the United States against Aliev, met in Turkey with supporters from Azerbaijan and sponsored the formation of the Committee to Defend Rasul Guliev’s Rights, which is noisily active in Baku. Guliev’s presidential candidacy appears mainly as a pro-forma gesture as he would hardly have been able to return to the country even before yesterday’s launching of the criminal case against him.
Primakov’s Ministry Irate at Georgian Critics.