The Popular Front leader and former president of Azerbaijan, Abulfaz Elchibey, is currently a defendant in a defamation case in a Baku court. The Justice Ministry has charged him with “insulting the honor and dignity” of President Haidar Aliev in a statement last month. Elchibey had alleged during a press conference that Aliev had during the 1970s and 1980s been instrumental in setting up the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist network on the territory of Turkey. Elchibey is prohibited from leaving Baku while the court case is in progress.
The former chairman of the Mili Majlis, Rasul Guliev, is being investigated in absentia on similar charges of slander by the prosecutor’s office. In a statement sent from the United States to a congress of his Democratic Party in Baku last week, Guliev accused Aliev of having made a secret deal with Armenia during the Karabakh war. According to Guliev’s charges as quoted in the press, Aliev agreed to surrender major areas in Karabakh and in Azerbaijan proper to the Armenian forces as part of a deal to facilitate Aliev’s ascent to the presidency. The Baku newspaper “Ulus,” which published Guliev’s statement, is also being charged with libel by the prosecutor (Turan, Assa-Irada, December 12-14). Earlier this year the authorities launched a criminal investigation on charges of embezzlement against Guliev, who became wealthy while in office.
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