Heydar Alirza oglu Aliyev

Heydar Aliyev

Heydar Alirza oglu Aliyev (Heydər Əlirza oğlu Əliyev, Гейдар Алиев; May 10, 1923December 12, 2003), also spelled as Heidar Aliev, Geidar Aliev, Haydar Aliyev, Geydar Aliyev was the president of Azerbaijan for the New Azerbaijan Party from June 1993 to October 2003, when his son Ilham Aliyev succeeded him. From 1969 till 1982, Aliyev was also the leader of Soviet Azerbaijan, practically dominating the political life of Azerbaijan for over 30 years. He was married to Zarifa Aliyeva, who died in 1985, and was survived by his son and daughter.

Career in the Soviet era

Early life

Aliyev obscured much of his early life, and details remain uncertain. He claimed to have been born into a working-class family in the Nakhchivan ASSR (today the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic) of the Azerbaijan SSR, though doubt exists over his date of birth. After graduating from Nakhchivan Pedagogical School, he attended the Azerbaijan Industrial Institute (now the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy) where he studied architecture. He also claimed to have studied at the Baku State University, graduating with a degree in history. It seems, however, that he actually attended the Ministry of State Security Academy in Leningrad.He also is of Kurdish Origin.

Leadership of Soviet Azerbaijan

Aliyev joined the Azerbaijan SSR People's Commissariat for State Security (NKGB) in 1944. In 1954, upon the government reform, NKGB became known as Committee for State Security, or the KGB. Aliyev rose quickly within the agency to the rank of Major-General , became a deputy chairman of Azerbaijani KGB in 1964, and the chairman of this organization in 1967.

In 1969, Aliyev was appointed by Leonid Brezhnev to the post of First Secretary of the Central Committee of Azerbaijan Communist Party amidst a Soviet anti-corruption campaign, taking over from Veli Akhoundov, who was accused of corruption. Aliyev has made some progress in fight against corruption, a number of people were sentenced to prison terms; and, in 1975, five factory and collective farm managers were sentenced to death for gross corruption. In early 1980s, Aliyev closed the republic's law school to the offspring of certain legal personnel in a purported effort to curb a self-perpetuating elite based on corruption.

During his leadership of Soviet Azerbaijan, Aliyev did not develop a commitment to the modernization of social structures, but his efforts led to considerably increased economic growth rates in Azerbaijan SSR. Aliyev became perhaps the most successful republican leader, raising the profile of the underprivileged republic and consistently promoting Azerbaijanis to senior posts. This came at the cost of flattering Leonid Brezhnev with lavish gifts and receptions during his three visits to Azerbaijan SSR. On one occasion, Aliyev gave him a diamond ring, with one large stone in the middle - Brezhnev - surrounded by 15 smaller ones, symbolizing the constituent Soviet Republics, worth estimated 226,000 roubles.

On November 22 1982, Yuri Andropov promoted Aliyev from alternate to full member of Soviet Politburo and appointed him to the post of First Deputy Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, responsible for transportation and social services. Aliyev thus attained the highest position ever reached by Azerbaijani in Soviet Union. Aliyev was forced to resign from this position in 1987 amidst the alleged corruption charges by Mikhail Gorbachev.

KGB and leader of Azerbaijan SSR

As head of the KGB's branch in Azerbaijan, he ran an anti-corruption campaign masked to purge his opponents. Following the purge, Aliyev soon became the undisputed leader of Azerbaijan. During this time, Heydar Aliyev was enriched and venerated by developing prominent ties with the Azeri mafia. Aliyev, with the help of the Azeri mafia, earned the profits from the Caspian Sea caviar, Sumgait oil, fruits and vegetables, cotton and customs and transport industries of Azerbaijan. In order to remain as undisputed leader of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev paid bribes to Brezhnev in the form of gifts such as a "Sun-king" diamond ring that was worth up to 226,000 roubles. When two Moscow prosecutors investigated the Azeri mafia, one was tried and expelled from the Communist party and the other was convicted and shot. He also became a candidate (non-voting) member of the Soviet Politburo in 1976. He occupied this position until December 1982 when Yuri Andropov promoted him to the post of first Deputy Prime Minister of the Soviet Union. The promotion came after a sum of 4 million roubles in bribes, at the cost of the Azeri mafia.

His star, waned following the appointment in 1985 of Mikhail Gorbachev as Soviet leader. His political views became a liability in the era of perestroika. Despite the persecutions of all his relatives in Azerbaijan, Gamboi Mamedov investigated Aliyev's corruption and ties with the mafia. This led to the mass suicide of a number of Azeri mafia members, as well as `mysterious` deaths of a number of Aliyev's lieutenants. His fall from grace became public when the state newspaper Pravda attacked him for corruption, with critics labeling him "one of the great Communist dinosaurs." In October 1987, Gorbachev mounted a clear-out of the Brezhnevite old guard and forced Aliyev to resign from the Politburo and as head of the Azerbaijan Communist Party "for reasons of health".

Alivey dominated the political life of Azerbaijan for over 30 years, but left his oil-rich country with a problematic legacy of gross corruption.

Fall and re-invention

After his forced retirement in 1987, Aliyev remained in Moscow till 1990. He suffered from heart attack during this period of time. Aliyev briefly appeared in the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan SSR in Moscow, opposing the Soviet reassertion of control in Baku, a military action which resulted in violent Black January events amidst the brewing Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Almost immediately after this public appearance in Moscow, Aliyev officially denounced his membership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and left Moscow for his native Nakhchivan. Here, Aliyev reinvented himself as a moderate nationalist and was subsequently elected as a deputy to the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan SSR in Baku. Under the pressure and criticism from the groups connected to his nemesis, then-leader of Soviet Azerbaijan Ayaz Mutallibov, Aliyev again returned to Nakhchivan, where he was elected a Chairman of the Supreme Council of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in 1991.

By December 1991, when Soviet Union ceased to exist and Azerbaijan became formally an independent state, despite Mutallibov's presidency, Aliyev independently governed Nakhchivan. The period of early 1992 was marked by increased violence in Nagorno-Karabakh War, further fueled by Khojaly Massacre and the fall of Shusha, the last Azerbaijani-populated town in Nagorno-Karabakh. These events resulted in resignation of Ayaz Mutallibov and subsequent rise to power of Azerbaijan Popular Front led by Abulfaz Elchibey. During Elchibey's one year in power, Aliyev continued to govern Nakhchivan without any subordination to official government in Baku. The attempt by Popular Front's Minister of Interior Isgandar Hamidov to forcefully overthrow Aliyev in Nakhchivan were thwarted by local militia in Nakhchivan's airport. During the same period, Aliyev independently negotiated cease-fire agreement in Nakhchivan with then Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossian.

On June 9, 1993, amidst the military coup in Ganja, led by Colonel Suret Huseynov, Abulfaz Elchibey was forced to invite Heydar Aliyev in Baku to mediate. On June 24, 1993, Elchibey himself left Baku for exile in his native Nakhchivan while Aliyev was elected to become a Chairman of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan, also assuming temporary presidential powers. In August 1993, Elchibey was stripped of his presidency by the nationwide referendum and Aliyev was elected a President of Azerbaijan in October 1993.

President of Azerbaijan

Upon Aliyev's rise to power in 1993, Azerbaijan's political transformation faced a number of hurdles due to anti-democratic practices in elections, repression of the opposition, consolidation of one-man rule, bribery, corruption and regionalism. During his presidency, Aliyev ruled Azerbaijan with a firm hand, encouraging foreign investment, while discouraging political dissent. He twice ran and won the presidency of Azerbaijan in national elections (held in the October 1993 and the October 1998), but international observers regarded neither election as free nor fair. Nevertheless, Aliyev's presidency brought stability to Azerbaijan in 1993.

Aliyev had considerable success at attracting multinational companies to invest heavily in Azerbaijan's oil industry, which controlled large oil and gas reserves under the Caspian Sea but had suffered poor management in Soviet times. In 1994 President Aliyev signed a huge contract with the international oil consortium Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC). He also acted as one of the driving forces behind the controversial multi-billion dollar project to build the BTC pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan in Turkey, via neighboring Georgia (thus bypassing Russia to the north and Iran.

However, mismanagement and corruption flourished under Aliyev's decade of autocratic rule and Azerbaijan gained a reputation as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Aliyev and his son, Ilham both stood accused of personally skimming off huge sums of oil revenue, leading to some describing the country as a kleptocracy.

Nagorno-Karabakh War

He also tried but failed to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which eventually resulted in the loss of some 16% of Azerbaijan's territory, estimated 30,000 deaths and displacement of over 600,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis. Attempting a military counter offensive in December 1993, Aliyev was able to recover some territory in Fizuli district, including the town of Horadiz, from the Armenian forces. Nevertheless, he settled for a ceasefire agreement in May 1994 which remains in force till now. The issue remains unresolved, with Armenian military control over Nagorno-Karabakh and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Azerbaijan.

March 1995 coup attempt

The Turkish parliamentary report on the 1996 Susurluk scandal revealed details on a 13-17 March, 1995 coup attempt against him, made by Ebulfeyz Elçibey, his predecessor as president (and a supporter of Turkish nationalism ), and assisted by Turkish officials . The CIA and the KGB payed close attention to each stage of the coup attempt, in which the Turkish Security and the MIT Turkish intelligence agencies were involved. On 10 March, 1995, Turkish president Süleyman Demirel was informed of the conspiracy, and he warned Aliyev .

Death and successor

Aliyev's health began to fail in 1999, when he had a major heart bypass operation in the United States at the Cleveland Clinic. He later had prostate surgery and a hernia operation. He suffered a collapse while giving a speech on live television in April 2003. On August 6, Aliyev returned to the United States for treatment for congestive heart failure and kidney problems. He stood down from the presidency at the start of October 2003, but in an extremely controversial move appointed his son Ilham as his party's sole presidential candidate. On December 12, 2003, President Heydar Aliyev died in the Cleveland Clinic.

Ilham Aliyev duly won the presidential election of October 15, 2003 but international observers again criticized the contest as falling well below expected standards. This transfer of power became the first case of top-level dynastic succession in the former Soviet Union.


Throughout his life, Heydar Aliyev was awarded and decorated with numerous awards. Heydar Aliyev was awarded with the Order of Lenin four times, the order of Red Star once and Hero of the Socialistic Labor twice. On 27 March, 1997 in Kiev, Ukraine, Aliyev was awarded with the supreme order of Ukraine, the "Yaroslav Mudry" order. On 13 April 1999, President Heydar Aliyev was awarded with the supreme order of Turkey. the "Peace Premium of Ataturk" order. On 3 April, 2003, he was elected professor and authorized member of the Academy of Safety of the Russian Federation, and was subsequently given the premium of Y.V.Andropov. On 10 May 2003, he was decorated with the order of Saint Apostle Andrey Pervozvanny, which is the supreme order of Russia.


See also

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