Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 135

The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan yesterday began the trial of former Prime Minister Suret Huseinov on charges including treason, armed rebellion, creation of unlawful armed units, large-scale embezzlement of state property and drug trafficking. (Turan, Western agencies, July 14) President Haidar Aliev treats Huseinov as his main internal adversary.

Born in 1957, Huseinov amassed personal wealth as head of a successful textile plant in Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second-largest city. He created a paramilitary unit to fight in the Karabakh war, awarded himself the rank of colonel and served as deputy prime minister responsible for Karabakh in the Popular Front government of President Abulfaz Elchibey. In June 1993, Huseinov, using armament left in his hands by Russian troops, rebelled against Elchibey, forcing him to vacate the presidency and to flee Baku. Widely suspected of acting at Moscow’s behest, Huseinov took over as prime minister; but had to contend with Haidar Aliev, whom the parliament called to Baku and elected as its chairman. Huseinov staged an abortive rebellion against Aliev in October 1994, was ousted from power and fled to Russia. While there, he was suspected of involvement in two coup attempts against Aliev in 1995 and 1996. Following those failures and the consolidation of Aliev’s rule, Moscow extradited Huseinov (and some other presumed pro-Russian figures it harbored) to Azerbaijan in 1997.