Aliev, Geidar

▪ 1994

      Some old soldiers, it seems, do not die or fade away. They just keep popping up here and there in leadership positions in various former Soviet states. In Azerbaijan, for example, Maj. Gen. Geidar Aliev, former KGB official, ex-Politburo member, and onetime chairman of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, bounded back suddenly in 1993 as the nation's president.

      Aliev's rise began in early June when Pres. Abulfez Elchibey attempted to disarm the soldiers in the city of Gyandzha and stripped Suret Guseynov, a local militia commander, of his rank for disobeying orders. Guseynov, however, denounced Elchibey and in early June ordered his troops into open rebellion. As he marched on Baku, Guseynov met little resistance. Elchibey called on Aliev, honourably rusticated to his home area, the Nakhichevan autonomous region, to go to Baku to help negotiate. The parliament quickly voted Aliev its chairman, Elchibey fled, and Aliev effectively took power as head of state. After negotiations with Guseynov, on June 30 Aliev named the maverick commander his prime minister, giving him control of the military and national security. A presidential election in October, with Aliev capturing almost 99% of the vote, legitimized his position. Not unexpectedly, Aliev took a pro-Russian tack. (Elchibey had looked toward Azerbaijan's ethnic cousins in Turkey.) He met with Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin in Moscow in September; later that month the Azerbaijani national assembly voted to rejoin the Commonwealth of Independent States.

      Geidar Ali Rza ogly Aliev was born in Nakhichevan on May 10, 1923. He entered the security service in Azerbaijan when he was 18 and in 1945 joined the Communist Party. During 1949-50 Aliyev attended the KGB Academy and he graduated from Azerbaijan State University in 1957. While holding several senior offices in the local KGB, he rose in the ranks of both the Communist Party of Azerbaijan and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). He was leader of the Azerbaijan S.S.R. from 1969 to 1982 and became a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1971. In 1982 Aliev attained full membership in the CPSU Politburo through the graces of General Secretary Yury Andropov.

      A loyal Communist, Aliev was secure in his position until after Mikhail Gorbachev took office in 1985. Aliev opposed Gorbachev's sweeping reforms, and he was removed from the Politburo in 1987, after which he dropped into obscurity. The resurrection of the resilient politician began in 1990 after Aliev put on the mantle of Azerbaijani nationalism and denounced Soviet intervention in Baku to put down anti-Armenian riots. He resigned from the Communist Party and was elected parliamentary leader of Nakhichevan, where he awaited the call from Baku. (MARVIN MARTIN)

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Universalium. 2010.

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