In a joint communique yesterday, Azerbaijan’s Internal Affairs and State Security Ministries, together with the General Prosecutor’s Office, accused the former chairman of parliament, Rasul Guliev, of plotting terrorist actions from abroad in order to seize power in the country. The statement claimed that Guliev is financing these operations with funds that he and his relatives allegedly embezzled from Azerbaijan’s oil export revenues, "causing the state huge damages." The communique in effect pronounces Guliev guilty ahead of any judicial proceedings. (Turan, September 15)
A Soviet-era oil executive and deputy prime minister, Guliev was chairman of the Milli Majlis in 1993-96, the second-most powerful state official in Azerbaijan. He fell out with President Haidar Aliev over policy and personal issues, resigned under pressure, and left the country, ostensibly for medical reasons, in September 1996. Last month Guliev was deprived of his parliamentary deputy’s mandate and, thus, of judicial immunity as well.
An independently wealthy man, Guliev published two books on Azerbaijan in Britain and the U.S. last year that contained criticism of Aliev’s rule. In recent weeks, Guliev has announced his intention to return and run for president in the approaching elections. His supporters in Azerbaijan have launched a signature-collecting campaign to register his candidacy. The official charges against Guliev inescapably leave the impression of being designed to eliminate him from the competition.
Tajik Opposition Temporarily Suspends Cooperation with Government.