Azerbaijan government accused Mikhail Gorbachev of genocide crimes
Six months before the presidential election in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, the government of this country found a brilliant PR method to guarantee the victory to incumbent President Geidar Aliyev (or to his protege). This method does not require great energy, or big money. Most likely, the opposition will have to acknowledge its defeat at the election, in spite of the fact that it was seriously going to compete with the government of the republic. President Aliyev became a national hero just in a few days. Everyone started liking and respecting him. All that was possible to achieve owing to only one statement. As it was officially announced by the Azerbaijan government, the country was going to institute criminal proceedings against former President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev. The ex-president is accused of the genocide of the Azerbaijan people in January of 1990 and of inciting the Karabakh conflict (Azerbaijan lost a part of its territory as a result of the conflict). As a matter of fact, each citizen of the Azerbaijan republic got an explanation to the reasons of all troubles in the country. Geidar Aliyev became a super-persona, who administers justice, as the republic’s people think.
This retaliation was initiated by a very respectable person in Azerbaijan – the head of the Caucasus Muslim administration, Allahshukur Pashazade. It is curious that his personal initiative was quickly backed by the republic’s Office of the Prosecutor General. As it turned out, the office finished the investigation on the matter in 1994. However, the facts to prove Gorbachev’s guilt were hidden from the public eye for years. Nobody knows the reason why. A spokesman for the Office of the Prosecutor General stated that Mikhail Gorbachev violated several articles of the Soviet Union and Azerbaijan Constitutions. Particularly, Gorbachev made a decision to institute a state of emergency in Azerbaijan in 1990 without any coordination with the republic’s government. Azerbaijan’s Office of the Prosecutor General believes that the illegal actions of the Soviet Union administration resulted in the bloody events in Baku (the capital of the republic) 13 years ago. About 20 thousand military men of the Soviet Army, Alfa special group and a group of KGB commandos participated in operation Blow in January of 1990. According to the official information, “establishing the constitutional order” resulted in 134 casualties, 700 civilians were wounded and 12 were missing.
The incumbent government of the republic lays all responsibility for further events in the republic on Mikhail Gorbachev. President Alieyv said that the suggestion to institute the criminal persecution against Gorbachev was a “right suggestion.” This statement became news number one not only in Azerbaijan, but also far abroad. However, mass media did not pay attention to a very important stipulation: Gorbachev trial will become possible only if all procedure formalities are observed.
Those formalities make a criminal case against the former president of the Soviet Union absolutely impossible. Yury Kolosov, a specialist of law from the Moscow State University of International Relations said in his interview to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper: “The given situation looks like the one with Pinochet, from the legal point of view. Mikhail Gorbachev is a foreign citizen for Azerbaijan. Needless to mention that he will not rush to yield to the Azerbaijan government. As a matter of fact, Baku will have to address to Moscow with a request to deliver the genocide crime suspect. However, there are no bilateral agreements between Russia and Azerbaijan to deliver criminals. Russia is a member of the European Convention for delivering criminals, although Azerbaijan is not. This means that the only thing that Baku can do about it is to put Mikhail Gorbachev on Interpol’s wanted list. Azerbaijan should have very weighty arguments to prove Gorbachev’s guilt at that. If Mikhail Gorbachev goes somewhere abroad, Interpol agents will be authorized to arrest him then.”
Another well-known lawyer, the chairman of the Moscow Bar, Henry Reznik, believes that no country will ever get involved in the intrigue of the Azerbaijan government: “Interpol will ask them to get the hell out of their office! – laughs Reznik. – there is a notion of statute of limitation. They accuse Gorbachev of power abuse? I am sorry, but it’s been 13 years, the statute of limitation was over in ten years. I don’t know, maybe, they want to equate those events in Baku with crimes against humanity that do not have the statute of limitation. However, one can hardly compare genocide and the institution of a state of emergency. As a lawyer, I believe that President Aliyev should identify those PR technology people and fire them.”
Even the people from the Azerbaijan’s Office of the Prosecutor General could not clarify anything about their own actions. Furthermore, they even felt a doubt about the whole matter, to put it mildly. Nevertheless, the Azerbaijan society perceived the statement of its government with great optimism. After the deployment of Soviet troops in Azerbaijan, the people of the republic have been bearing malice about it for years. The USSR management arranged a massacre in the republic under the disguise of constitutional law and order slogans. They simply did not want to let Azerbaijan pull out from the USSR. Rasim Musabekov, Azerbaijan-based scientist of politics believes that the whole scandal was ultimately arranged as a way to win electors: “They do not like Mikhail Gorbachev in Azerbaijan. People think that he is responsible for the lives of thousands of people, who fell victims to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is easy to organize a pre-election PR campaign against such a background,” said he. Dmitry Oreshkin, the manager of the analytical group Merkator, pointed out: “Geidar Aliyev is an experienced fighter. He has proved it again that he can manipulate the public opinion.”
Indeed, the republic’s people like those home policy victories that Aliyev makes effortlessly. More importantly, those victories do not cost anything for the treasury. By the way, it is curious, but all Gorbachev Foundation employees were rather lazy and unwilling about their comments on the situation. As they say, it is all about political motives.
Usnia Babayeva Arif Useinov Elena Baikova Nezavisimaya Gazeta
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov