What Can You Do With USD 1,000,000 in Azerbaijan?

Autor:Lukasz Grajevski

Blurred silhouettes are arguing about undefined business. Someone has to ensure the victory in the parliamentary elections. At the beginning the whole deal was about USD 500,000, and now the rate has been doubled. This is a brief description of the video which shows the dark side of politics in Azerbaijan.


Million dollars is enough to become a member of Azerbaijani parliament, by 401 (K), 2012, source: Flickr.com

The opposition newspaper Azadliq (“freedom” from Azerbaijani) has posted a video containing a discussion about the bribe. The result of the deal would be a seat in the Azerbaijani parliament. The action took place in 2005, 7 days before the parliamentary elections. There are three heroes in the video. At that time Elshad Abdullayev was the rector of a private university. As it becomes clear from the recording, he wanted to get into the parliament. Abdullayev said that he needs a deputy mandate because of his brother – the rector’s sibling was kidnapped on the eve of the elections and, being a member of the parliament, Abdullaev could investigate the matter more effectively. So he has just selected the shortest path.

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Requesting an inclusion in the list of persons to be elected for 100 percent, the rector addressed Gular Ahmedova, the then deputy from the pro-presidential party Yeni Azerbaijan (“New Azerbaijan”). This is the second protagonist of the video. Motivated by the huge financial gain, she agreed to include Abdullayev in the list of persons recommended to a new parliament by the President. The imoprotant fact here, however, is that she acted on behalf of Ramiz Mehdiyev, who is still the Head of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration. The recorded persons argued over the bribe size about 10 minutes. Abdullayev, in order to get the post of the deputy, had already sent USD500,000, and Ahmedova wants another USD500,000 for finalization of the case. The journalist Sevinj Babaeva acted as a mediator.

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The video became public a few years later due to Elshad Abdullayev who prudently filmed the entire meeting on a hidden camera. Did he pay a tidy sum of USD1,000,000? This is unclear, for we cannot catch it in the movie. However, from history, it is known that indeedAbdullayev entered the parliament, and then, under pressure of numerous allegations of corruption, he repudiated his mandate in favor of an opposition candidate. The charges were proved.

The video led to a heated debate over the issue of corruption, and also to legal assessment of the case. Guler Ahmedova was expelled from the party, and, most likely, a lawsuit will be filed against her. She had initially claimed that the video is fake. Leader of the Yeni Azerbaijan, Ali Ahmedov, commenting on the case said that actions of individuals should not become a base for accusations against the political class as a whole, but it was already too late. The video was translated into English and has already gathered many views online, questioning the value of the whole Azerbaijani parliamentary system.