Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 75

Russian authorities announced yesterday that Azerbaijan’s former defense minister Rahim Gaziev has been extradited to Azerbaijan. Arrested by the Moscow city Internal Affairs Department April 14, Gaziev was flown to Baku yesterday under escort of Azerbaijani law enforcement officials. Azerbaijan’s former Communist party first secretary and the republic’s first president, Ayaz Mutalibov, is not being extradited despite his being taken into custody in Moscow April 12. Mutalibov is now hospitalized under guard for alleged heart trouble. The Russian General Prosecutor’s Office has announced that it requires evidence from Azerbaijan to support the charges against Mutalibov and that the review of the charges might take one month. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, April 16)

Gaziev, formerly associated with the Popular Front, was sentenced to death in absentia last year by Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court on charges of having surrendered Lachin and Shusha to Karabakh Armenian forces and of having been involved in the October 1994 and March 1995 coup attempts against the Azerbaijani government. Gaziev escaped to Russia prior to his trial. Mutalibov is charged with complicity in the January 1990 massacre perpetrated by Soviet forces in Baku, a 1992 abortive coup against the Popular Front government, and the 1994 and 1995 pro-Moscow coup attempts against President Heydar Aliyev.

There was no immediate explanation for the difference in the treatment applied to Gaziev and Mutalibov. Azerbaijan had long demanded the extradition of both men. Speculation centers on Moscow’s hopes to play this card for Azerbaijani concessions on military and energy issues.

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