General and president who stopped his country on the brink of civil war

Baku.  A local resident near a carpet with a portrait of Heydar Aliyev in one of the city's markets.  Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS

Baku. A local resident near a carpet with a portrait of Heydar Aliyev in one of the city’s markets. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS

While monuments are being torn down in Ukraine not to revolutionaries and Soviet figures, but to Russian writers and poets, recognized classics of world literature, in sunny

A bust of the Hero of the Soviet Union Richard Sorge was erected last week in Baku at school number 90. It is noteworthy that this school itself bears the name of Sorge. In the capital of Azerbaijan, it turned out, the memory of the legendary Soviet intelligence officer is carefully preserved, there is both a memorial and a memorial plaque on the house where he was born and lived (Sorge was born on November 4 in Baku ). The plans of the city government are to create his house-museum.

At the moment, with a number of post-Soviet republics cursing everything about the Soviet Union, such news seems like news from a parallel universe. But not in the case of Azerbaijan, where the current president, Ilham Aliyev, follows the course of his father, respected not only in Azerbaijan, but also in Russia, Heydar Aliyev. This laid the foundation for the prosperity of present-day Azerbaijan. And at the same time, he always respected the Soviet past and appreciated the efforts of the Soviet leadership to develop culture, education, health care, science and economy of the national republics, including his own motherland.

It is even more surprising that Aliyev turned out to be the only leader of the post-Soviet republic to leave the system of the KGB of the USSR. However, it is not this fact in itself that is surprising, but the fact that bloody conflicts flared up in the post-Soviet space among democratic leaders who cursed the “terrible, terrible, bloody and repressive KGB machine”, but shed the blood themselves of their peoples over the brink. But KGB General Geidar Aliyevich Aliyev, unlike many leaders of the Popular Fronts, never embarked on strong methods of solving problems. Whatever happens – uprisings of our own army, aggravation of the military conflict with Armenia, speeches of the intra-Azerbaijani opposition, incited from the outside, etc. – Heydar Aliyev preferred to resolve all difficult situations peacefully first. And only then did he include not the right to violence, but the force of the law.

1983 Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Heydar Aliyev in his office.  Photo by Vladimir Musaelyan /TASS Newsreel/

1983 Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Heydar Aliyev in his office. Photo by Vladimir Musaelyan /TASS Newsreel/

It is noteworthy that he made his first visit to Moscow as leader of post-Soviet Azerbaijan and did this even before he officially became president. Presidential elections in Azerbaijan took place on October 3, 1993, and Aliyev flew to Moscow in September to meet Yeltsin, Chernomyrdin, Khasbulatov and members of the Russian government, in the status of head of parliament and acting. president. In many ways, that trip was prompted by the need to avoid civil war in Azerbaijan, as fighting broke out in Nakhichevan and Iran sent its army into part of Azerbaijan’s territory. And Turkey immediately became enthusiastic about this. Aliyev could choose any of them as allies, but he chose Russia. Because only Moscow guaranteed peace and tranquility. And so it happened.

Aliyev maintained relations with Russia until the end of his life, although he began to actively cooperate with the West in the economy, which was caused by objective necessity. But Azerbaijan’s strategic cooperation with Russia has been and will remain the cornerstone of its foreign policy. How unchanged was his attitude towards the Russians in the republic itself. We frankly admit that there are very few of them left, but the pogroms in the same Baku took place at the initiative of those same “democrats” of the Popular Front with the knowledge and tacit knowledge of Gorbachev.

As for Aliyev, he was a categorical opponent of such inter-ethnic relations. His attitude towards the Russians is best characterized by two examples. In 1990, when Soviet troops were sent to quell the riots in Baku, a young lieutenant at a military school checkpoint shot several bandits trying to break into the area, for which he was sentenced to death by an Azerbaijani court. The man spent several months on death row, but it was Heydar Aliyev who was able to pull him out and extradite him to Russia.

And one more example. A two and a half hour drive from Baku is the Russian Molokan village of Ivanovka. In the office of the chairman of the collective farm (namely, the collective farm preserved there) there are two portraits – of the former president of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev and his son, the current head of the republic, Ilham. It turns out that Geidar Alievich, who came to power, took the village and its inhabitants under personal protection, and his son Ilham continued this tradition after his father. By the way, in 2007, Ilham Heydarovich very hard stopped the provocations of a certain “Karabakh Liberation Organization”, which demanded that all remaining Russians be expelled from Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev in 1996. Photo ITAR-TASS

Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev in 1996. Photo ITAR-TASS

The high level of relations with Moscow and consistent policies make it possible to develop the country without destructive processes, a weakening of the economy due to external and internal factors, and even more so without a senseless confrontation with Russia, which distinguishes many people from the “family of Soviet peoples”, which caused explosions of nationalistic feeling in their countries. Even without being a member of the EAEU, Azerbaijan reaps the full benefits of cooperation with this structure and its member states.

This is largely facilitated by the fact that Ilham Aliyev cherishes his father’s legacy and the period of Soviet history common to all peoples of the USSR, and does not depart from the course of a strategic partnership with Russia, but year only strengthened year after year. year. His father, who became an example for Ilham, undoubtedly played a decisive role in the formation of the current president of Azerbaijan.

In May, Azerbaijan celebrates the centenary of the birth of Heydar Aliyev. The man who ensured the stability and development of Azerbaijan, ending the unrest and stopping the republic, literally one step away from civil war. And Russia will certainly not miss this date either.

By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at