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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07BAKU1151
2007-09-19 07:07:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Baku
Cable title:  

CONVICTED MP HUSSEIN ABDULLAYEV SHARES HIS SIDE OF

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PHUM  KDEM  INR  AJ 
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VZCZCXRO1596
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHMRE RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHKB #1151/01 2620707
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 190707Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAKU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3894
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNOSC/OSCE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAKU 001151 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM INR AJ
SUBJECT: CONVICTED MP HUSSEIN ABDULLAYEV SHARES HIS SIDE OF
THE STORY

REF: A. BAKU 327

B. BAKU 337

C. BAKU 430

Classified By: POL/ECON CHIEF JOAN POLASCHIK PER 1.4(B,D).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAKU 001151

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM INR AJ
SUBJECT: CONVICTED MP HUSSEIN ABDULLAYEV SHARES HIS SIDE OF
THE STORY

REF: A. BAKU 327

B. BAKU 337

C. BAKU 430

Classified By: POL/ECON CHIEF JOAN POLASCHIK PER 1.4(B,D).


1. (C) SUMMARY: Former Member of Parliament (MP) Hussein
Abdullayev -- arrested and convicted following a March 16
scuffle with fellow MP Fazail Aghamaly - shared his side of
the story in a September 12 meeting. Abdullayev believes he
was set up, arguing that Aghamaly initiated the fight after
Abdullayev made it clear to the Parliamentary leadership that
he planned to criticize the Prime Minister's annual report to
Parliament against the leadership's wishes. Abdullayev
believes that Minister of Internal Affairs Ramil Usubov also
was linked to the arrest. Abdullayev claims that he has been
followed and harassed by police since his release from
prison; he also raised concerns about his medical condition,
telling us that the GOAJ will no longer permit him to leave
the country to receive medical treatment. Many observers
link Abdullayev's arrest to the continuing rivalry between
Minister of Internal Affairs Usubov and Minister of Emergency
Situations Heydarov; others believe it was linked to a
property deal gone sour. END SUMMARY


2. (U) On May 18, former independent MP Hussein Abdullayev
was convicted of battery and hooliganism, for which he
received a two-year suspended sentence. The Court of Appeals
later upheld the initial Sabail District Court verdict, and
the case is currently awaiting a Supreme Court hearing.
Abdullayev was arrested after engaging in a fist fight with
pro-government MP Fazail Aghamaly after Abdullayev criticized
the Prime Minister's annual report on the GOAJ's performance
in a March 16 parliamentary session. On March 17, in a vote
of 79 to 15, Parliament voted to strip Abdullayev of his
immunity; he was arrested the same day and detained for two
months while the GOAJ investigated the case (reftels). After
the May 18 ruling, Abdullayev was permitted to leave
Azerbaijan twice to undergo spinal cord surgery in Munich,

Germany. In both instances, he returned to Azerbaijan within
the allotted time.

AGHAMALY'S VERSION OF EVENTS
--------------


3. (C) MP Fazail Aghamaly told Poloff that the March 16
incident began when Abdullayev violated Parliament's rules of
procedure by speaking longer than the three minutes that had
been allocated to him. Aghamaly said that Abdullayev began
jumping, shouting, and personally insulting Aghamaly and
other MPs. Specifically, Aghamaly said that Abdullayev had
called him a "jackass" and told him to "shut up and act like
an MP," before insulting Aghamaly's female relatives.
Aghamaly maintained that he "could not remember who hit whom
first," but noted that Abdullayev is much smaller than him.
(NOTE: In the television coverage of the incident, Aghamaly
appears to have started the fight.) From the scuffle,
Aghamaly said that he had sustained an injury to his left
eye, which required 20 days of treatment. According to
Aghamaly, Abdullayev is a "criminal," whom all the MPs had
feared, but he said that Adbullayev had not expected anyone
to react to his antics. Aghamaly concluded that Abdullayev's
two-year suspended sentence was an adequate penalty for his
actions.

ABDULLAYEV'S SIDE OF THE STORY
--------------


4. (C) Former MP Hussein Abdullayev and his lawyer, Javanshir
Suleymanov, recounted Abdullayev's version of the scuffle,
arrest, conviction, and present situation, and briefed Poloff
on the legal aspects of Abdullayev's case. Abdullayev said
that he had planned in advance to criticize the Prime
Minister's report, and had shared his speech with Speaker of
Parliament Ogtay Asadov a week before the March 16 session.
According to Abdullayev, Asadov had "recommended" that he not
criticize the report. (NOTE: Emboffs had been permitted to
observe Parliamentary sessions throughout the spring, but
received a text message from Asadov's aide the night before
stating that due to "technical difficulties," they would not
be permitted access to the March 16 session. They were
allowed into subsequent sessions.) He said that Aghamaly had
hit him first, and claimed that Aghamaly later gave an
interview to the BBC in which he admitted that he had struck
Abdullayev first, and said that Abdullayev "had needed to be
shut up for a long time." (NOTE: We were unable to verify
that such an interview exists.)


5. (C) According to Suleymanov, the Prosecutor's charges
against Abdullayev stipulate that he committed physical
battery against two individuals. This, Suleymanov and

BAKU 00001151 002 OF 003


Abdullayev argued, is ridiculous: who was the second person?
Suleymanov said that he has asked the Prosecutor's office
several times to identify the second "victim," but has not
received a response. Further, he pointed out that the
footage of the incident was very widely aired, and the
footage showed only Abdullayev and Aghamaly. Suleymanov said
that the allegation of physical battery against more than one
individual resulted in Abdullayev losing his seat in
Parliament; the charge for such an act against one individual
does not bear the same legal penalties.


6. (C) Abdullayev said that during his time in Parliament, he
had done a lot for Azerbaijani statehood. "I was a member of
Parliament's Legal Policy and State Building Commission. If
they can do this to me, what could they do to average
citizens?" According to Abdullayev, if there were a "normal"
Parliament for only six months, many of Azerbaijan's problems
could be fixed. Abdullayev said that there are no
independent MPs in Parliament, and that each Minister has
installed six to seven MPs in the body. Further, he said
that about five or six MPs receive money from the GOAJ to
create "provocations" in Parliament; while he did not name
any such individuals other than Aghamaly, he alluded to the
"pocket" opposition parties with representation in
Parliament. (NOTE: These are widely thought to include the
Hope Party, the Civil Solidarity Party, and the Justice
Party.)


7. (C) Abdullayev speculated that Minister of Internal
Affairs Ramil Usubov had something to do with his arrest.
Abdullayev said that earlier in the spring 2007 session, he
had repeatedly raised the idea of calling Usubov to testify
in Parliament regarding Haji Mammadov's kidnapping and
extortion ring, which had operated within the Ministry for
more than a decade. Abdullayev does not believe Usubov's
public claim to have not known about the gang, and wanted to
question the Minister. According to Abdullayev, many other
MPs warned him to drop the issue, including Aghamaly. (NOTE:
Usubov is widely rumored to be in line with Presidential
Chief of Staff Ramiz Mehdiyev.) Abdullayev believes that his
removal from Parliament was intended to intimidate the other
MPs, which he said has worked.


8. (C) The two detailed their concerns over Abdullayev's
medical condition; Abdullayev claims to suffer from a spinal
disorder which cannot be treated in Azerbaijan. Although he
has been permitted to leave the country twice for surgery
since receiving his sentence, Abdullayev said the court will
no longer permit him to do so. Suleymanov argued that the
court has no reason to deny Abdullayev permission to leave
the country, as nothing has changed since the prior two
rulings to allow him to go. Abdullayev explained that there
are specialists in Munich, Germany, with the expertise to
treat his condition, and because of the equipment required,
they would be unable to treat him in Azerbaijan. Suleymanov
said that he is looking into filing a complaint with the
European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the grounds that
depriving one of medical treatment can be considered torture,
which he claims also was the case during Abdullayev's
two-month detention. Recalling the extensive press coverage
during his first trip to Munich, speculating that he would
not return to Azerbaijan, Abdullayev chuckled, saying "they
(the GOAJ) didn't want me to return." In fact, he said that
after that trip, immigration officials had been reluctant to
allow him to re-enter the country. (NOTE: On September 17,
the Court of Appeals overturned the previous decision, and
ruled to allow Abdullayev to leave the country once more.)


9. (C) Abdullayev said that since the day of his arrest, his
and his relatives' phone conversations have been recorded by
the GOAJ. He also reports being followed and harassed by
police officers. No matter how careful his driver is,
Abdullayev said that police always manage to find some reason
to pull them over and question them. According to
Abdullayev, this is the GOAJ's attempt to exert psychological
pressure on him. (NOTE: In August, Abdullayev sent an
appeal to Elchin Behbudov, the head of Azerbaijan's Committee
against Torture, complaining of police harassment. On August
17, Behbudov told Poloff that Abdullayev was frightened and
hiding at his dacha.)


10. (C) Although Abdullayev did not rule out future political
activity, he said that he would remain focused on his music
until the situation is resolved. He said that if given the
chance to reclaim his Parliamentary seat, or to run for a
seat in a future election, he would do so. Suleymanov said
that if the ECHR overturns the Azerbaijani courts' ruling,
the GOAJ would be required to reinstate Abdullayev's mandate,
which could be tricky if the seat is filled before that time.
(NOTE: That would likely be the case, as Azerbaijani cases
tend to take several years to be processed through the ECHR.

BAKU 00001151 003 OF 003


The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2010, but
the Central Election Commission may call elections for vacant
seats at any time. As of September 12, head of the Central
Election Commission's International Relations Department
Rovsat Gasimov said there are no immediate plans to do so.)

COMMENT
--------------


11. (C) Abdullayev's case proves that in Azerbaijan, as in
the cases of former Ministers Farhad Aliyev and Ali Insanov,
connections and financial means matter little if the wrong
person is crossed. Prior to the March 16 scuffle, Abdullayev
was widely viewed as well-connected within the GOAJ; he was
rumored to have deployed gangs of GOAJ-affiliated "sportsmen"
to picket opposition offices in the run-up to the 2005
parliamentary election. At the time of his arrest,
Abdullayev was believed to have been a victim of the
long-running rivalry between Minister of Internal Affairs
Usubov and Minister of Emergency Situations Kamalladdin
Heydarov. Many observers also speculated that Abdullayev's
arrest may have been linked to a property deal gone sour.
Given the extremely closed nature of political deliberations
within Azerbaijan's ruling elite, we likely will never know
exactly what happened. However, Abdullayev's arrest and
subsequent treatment raise rule of law and human rights
concerns. We will continue to monitor the case. We will
continue to monitor Parliamentary sessions, meet regularly
with our contact MPs, and report developments.

BIO NOTES
--------------


12. (C) Hussein Abdullayev is an well-known composer and
pianist, as well as a prominent businessman, with a large
wealth accumulated from selling metals. Although he served
in Parliament as an independent MP, until the March 16
events, he was considered to be closely aligned with the
GOAJ. Poloff met Abdullayev in his studio, which is a large,
nicely decorated space in a very expensive downtown Baku
location, fitted with what looks like state of the art
recording equipment. In stark contrast to the seriousness of
the tale he wove and the earlier reports that he was scared
and hiding, during the meeting Abdullayev was relaxed and
witty. Abdullayev speaks fluent Azerbaijani and Russian, and
limited English.


13. (C) Fazail Aghamaly founded the Ana Veten ("Motherland")
Party in 1990, after resigning his position as secretary in
the Popular Front (which at the time, was a movement, not a
party, led by Albufaz Elchibey) due to a disagreement with
the Front's position on the tragic Black January events.
While Ana Veten claims to be an "opposition" party, it is
aggressively pro-government and widely speculated to have
been the GOAJ's own creation. Ana Veten's two MPs, Aghamaly
and Zahid Orujov, are among the most outspoken MPs, and often
broach topics that would benefit the GOAJ but are too
controversial for ruling party MPs to test themselves, such
as their proposal in 2006 to extend the presidential term to
seven years. Ana Veten is not visibly active in politics
outside of Parliament. Aghamaly told Poloff that Ana Veten
currently has approximately 14,000 members, with 62 regional
branches.
DERSE