The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan has sentenced Aga Ahundov, head of the dissolved Gardashlyg ("Fraternity") organization, to eight years in prison on charges of attempting to overthrow the government by force and creating of an unlawful armed group. Ahundov, jailed since 1995, was implicated in that year’s abortive coup. The court took into account Ahundov’s admission of guilt. Gardashlyg, an armed detachment loyal to the former Communist President, Ayaz Mutalibov, helped reinstall Mutalibov in power briefly in 1992 after he had been forced out and before he was forced to flee for good. From his present haven in Moscow, Mutalibov maintains contact with supporters in Azerbaijan.
The same court has begun the trial of seven members of the Lezgin organization Sadval ("Unity") on charges of high treason, banditry, and murder. The investigation found that the group had been trained in subversion by Armenian intelligence. One defendant is a citizen of Russia and is believed to be one of the leaders of Sadval, which is based mainly in Russia’s Dagestan republic. The organization, dormant recently, aims to create a Lezgistan at Azerbaijan’s expense by uniting the Lezgins who inhabit both sides of the Russia-Azerbaijan border.
The Supreme Court is about to try a Russian military intelligence agent caught in flagrante late last year. The agent is an ethnic Azeri resident of Georgia. Azerbaijani state security minister Namig Abbasov, who disclosed the case, indicated that its main significance resides in Russia’s violation of agreements among CIS member states to refrain from conducting intelligence operations on each other’s territory. Abbasov stated that "certain Russian circles organize subversion in Azerbaijan aiming to bring to power an obedient government." (Turan, Interfax, March 6, 7, 8, 10)
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