Azerbaijan’s former Communist party leader and president of the republic, Ayaz Mutalibov and former defense minister Rahim Gaziev were arrested over the weekend by the Moscow city internal affairs department on as yet unspecified charges. A group of Azerbaijani law enforcement officials flew to Moscow to discuss extradition of the two fugitives to Azerbaijan. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, April 13 & 14; Kommersant-daily, April 13)
Mutalibov is wanted in Azerbaijan on charges of involvement in an abortive coup in May 1992 (after which he fled to Moscow), as well as in the October 1994 and March 1995 coups, which he reportedly steered from Russia. Arrested in 1995 in Moscow for alleged violations of passport regulations, Mutalibov was then released and granted political asylum in Russia. Gaziev, who has just published a self-justifying article in a Moscow daily (Kuranty, April 12), was recently sentenced to death for treason by Azerbaijani courts in absentia on charges of contributing to Azerbaijan’s defeat in the Karabakh war in 1993 and of plotting a coup. Gaziev and several military and security officials escaped to Russia in 1994 while awaiting trial in Azerbaijan.
Russian protection of these and other Azerbaijani conspirators has marred Russian-Azerbaijani relations. President Heydar Aliyev has repeatedly demanded extradition, most recently in a well publicized demarche last week. Moscow has until now extradited some lesser participants in anti-Aliyev coups, but not the leading figures. Their extradition would signify that Moscow is abandoning its proteges in order to mend fences with Baku.
Kazakhstan a Major Recipient of U.S. Investments.