Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 19

In March 1995, Azerbaijan’s elite OPON (special-purpose police detachments) led by the brothers Rovshan and Mahir Javadov staged a coup against President Haidar Aliev. Army troops defeated the rebellion after fierce fighting, Rovshan was killed, Mahir escaped abroad, and the OPON was disbanded. Mahir Javadov has recently resurfaced in Iran, apparently with several ex-OPON officers, and is urging the people of Azerbaijan to oppose the authorities.

In his appeals from Tehran, Javadov calls on putative supporters inside Azerbaijan to form a “OPON Party” to overthrow Aliev and his government. Describing the recent presidential election as fraudulent and the president as “illegitimate,” Javadov offers to lead efforts to “liberate” Azerbaijan; and promises to recognize any authority that would come to power legitimately through “fair” elections. He calls on Azerbaijani youth to join him in Iran in order to receive paramilitary training and create a new OPON for a dual struggle: against Aliev and for liberation of Karabakh with the support of Iran.

Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor-General Eldar Hasanov has officially asked Iran to extradite Javadov and his associates, on the basis of the bilateral agreement on mutual legal assistance. Senior presidential adviser Vafa Guluzade has made this request public. Tehran seems in no hurry to respond (Turan, January 19, 27; AzadInform and 525 gazety, January 23; Avrazyia and Yeni Musavat, January 27, cited by Turan Press Review.).