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Mutalibov's return - a cover for Aliyev?

10.07.2012  |  14:34

Mutalibov's return - a cover for Aliyev?. 27616.jpeg

In May 1992, at the height of popular unrest, the first president of Azerbaijan Ayaz Mutalibov fled to Russia. At home he was considered state criminal for nearly 20 years. In 1996, when the republic's authorities tried to extradite Mutalibov, only intercession of Boris Yeltsin saved him. And now the first president of Azerbaijan has expressed a desire to return home. The country that not so long ago accused him of Khojaly tragedy, met him as an honorary citizen. Why did it happen? Vladimir Zakharov, director of the Institute of the Black Sea-Caspian region, talked with GTimes on this subject.

- Ayaz Mutalibov was considered state criminal for 20 years. Now he returns to his homeland as an honorary citizen. What has caused such an amazing metamorphosis?

- The situation with the first President of Azerbaijan is very complex. Caught in 1991 in power, he did not think about his future. Subsequent rulers of the country also did not think about future. Now situation in Azerbaijan is very alarming, Ilham Aliyev is well aware that everything may happen there. Aliyev won't be president for the third term. He is doing everything so that his wife or some of his close relatives would have become the next president. But it is important for him not only to keep his clan in power, he thinks about his personal safety. In this regard, in 2012 he went to enact a law "On ensuring the former president of Azerbaijan and members of his family". So the return of Mutalibov is a very important political step. Ilham Aliyev has taken this step to protect himself, his family and immediate surroundings.

- What is the essence of this law?

- This law gives the ex-president of Azerbaijan the maximum set of privileges. It has no analogues in the former Soviet Union. Under the law the ex-President gets the highest pension, private car, bodyguards, diplomatic passport and other privileges. The former president, his wife and all family members have the same degree of inviolability and protection from prosecution just like the head of the Azerbaijani state.

- How can the "Law on the former president" secure the future of President Ilham Aliyev?

- It will be almost impossible to cancel the law "On ensuring the former president of Azerbaijan and members of his family" in the future, it will not be retroactive. It can be seen after more careful reading of the text of the law. It provides a maximum range of benefits and possible mechanisms of legal protection for these benefits. These benefits are much more necessary for Ilham Aliyev than for Ayaz Mutalibov. For the Aliyev's clan precedent with Mutalibov is the only salvation. Almost entire Azerbaijan is dissatisfied with the absolute power of Aliev. Everyone knows that the republic is one of the police states of the former Soviet Union. Special services of Azerbaijan are watching all the residents. If anyone expresses even a slightest discontent, this discontent would be suppressed to the fullest extent of the law. Of course, the ordinary people keep silence in such a situation. They won't tell about their real thoughts not only to the press but even to the closest people. In Georgia, by the way, the same thing.

I do not know whether Aliev has invented this law by his own, or his surroundings has prompted him, but this law works. Such a law is salvation for any dictator who wants to leave the scene himself, without much bloodshed and damage to his health. The fact that Abulfaz Elchibey's surroundings overthrew Mutalibov is another question. The fact that the tragedy in Khojaly was arranged specifically to eliminate Mutalibov also changes nothing. All former presidents, speaking in Russian, are berries from one field in this respect. First they removed Mutalibov, in 1993 - Elchibey; after that Aliyev's clan came to power. Heydar Aliyev became the president bypassing the then Constitution. Then he carried out considerable work to make Ilham's son the president. Ilham is also thinking about his future and the future of the ruling clan. The situation in Azerbaijan does not inspire him to be optimistic.

- Did Mutalibov want to return to Azerbaijan?

- In Russia Ayaz Mutalibov lived in misery. His decision to return home is quite right for him and his family. In Azerbaijan Mutalibov gets well-off old age, the possibility of treatment. A man of his age should be thinking about it first.

So the decision was dictated by personal motives rather than by the political. It must be confessed, Russia lost interest to him after May 1992. No one paid attention to him for 20 years. Mutalibov was trying to live in Russia apolitically, as a private person. Of course, in the press during these 20 years there appeared many interviews with him. But then Mutalibov disavowed these interviews, arguing he had never spoken this. It is not clear so far, what is true and what is fiction, but Mutalibov had every right to give a rebuttal.

All 20 years while living in Russia, Mutalibov dreamed of returning to the homeland. Now the Azerbaijani authorities provide him this opportunity and he used it.

Arthur Pryjmak

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