The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan yesterday sentenced twenty defendants to prison terms ranging from six months to fourteen years for involvement in an abortive coup d’etat in 1996. Most defendants were supporters of former Prime Minister Suret Huseinov, who had been defeated in an 1994 coup against President Haidar Aliev and then fled to Russia. Several codefendants, however, were supporters of Azerbaijan’s former Communist Party leader and president, Ayaz Mutalibov, who also fled to Moscow after losing power in 1992. Those sentenced yesterday included the former press secretaries of Huseinov and Mutalibov. Another defendant was found to have received twenty-two kilograms of gold jewelry from Huseinov, who had been a wealthy entrepreneur in Azerbaijan before making his bid for power.
The Court found that some “threads of the [pro-Huseinov] conspiracy led to Mutalibov.” It mandated the prosecutor general to launch criminal proceedings against former Chairman of Parliament Yakub Mamedov, who served as acting president of the country during the 1992 interregnum from Mutalibov’s fall to Abulfaz Elchibey’s election as president. Russia last year extradited Huseinov to Azerbaijan after a long tug of war, but continues to protect Mutalibov and some of his KGB cadres. (Turan, Russian agencies, June 1)
SOUTH OSSETIA ROUNDUP.