Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 93

The Office of the Russian Prosecutor General yesterday released from custody and refused to extradite Ayaz Mutalibov, the Azerbaijani former Communist leader and president, wanted by his country’s courts on charges of involvement in several armed coup attempts from 1992 to 1995. Shielded by the Russian authorities since 1992, Mutalibov was finally arrested April 12 at Baku’s insistent demand. Following the 30 days provided by law in order to examine the extradition request, the Russian Prosecutor rejected it for "failing to prove" the case against Mutalibov as well as on the grounds that the charges against Mutalibov in Azerbaijan are not transferable to Russian territory. Mutalibov said on television last night that he will now apply for political asylum in Russia for additional protection. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, NTV, May 12)

In its choice of justifications for denying Azerbaijan’s request, the Russian Prosecutor appeared to substitute itself for a court and also to imply that coup plotters from the "near abroad" are not extraditable. The absence of an extradition treaty weakened Baku’s case somewhat. Ultimately, the decision in the case appeared clearly political. Exactly one month ago, Moscow extradited former defense minister and convicted plotter Rahim Gaziev to Azerbaijan. But Gaziev belonged to the anti-Moscow Popular Front, whereas Mutalibov supports to this day a Russian orientation for Azerbaijan. Mutalibov also received the Duma’s support in a special resolution adopted while he was in custody. The outcome lays to rest speculation about Azerbaijani political concessions in exchange for Mutalibov.

…And in Georgia.