Heydar Aliyev

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Heydar Aliyev
Heydər Əliyev
Heydar Aliyev 1997.jpg
3rd President of Azerbaijan
In office
10 October 1993 – 31 October 2003
(Acting: 24 June – 10 October 1993)
Prime Minister Surat Huseynov
Fuad Guliyev
Artur Rasizade
Ilham Aliyev
Preceded by Abulfaz Elchibey
Succeeded by Ilham Aliyev
Speaker of the National Assembly
In office
15 June 1993 – 5 November 1993
President Abulfaz Elchibey
Prime Minister Surat Huseynov
Fuad Guliyev
Preceded by Isa Gambar
Succeeded by Rasul Guliyev
First Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union
In office
24 November 1982 – 23 October 1987
President Vasili Kuznetsov (acting)
Yuri Andropov
Vasili Kuznetsov (acting)
Konstantin Chernenko
Vasili Kuznetsov (acting)
Andrei Gromyko
Premier Nikolai Tikhonov
Nikolai Ryzhkov
Preceded by Ivan Arkhipov
Succeeded by Andrei Gromyko
Full member of the 26th, 27th Politburo
In office
22 November 1982 – 21 October 1987
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan
In office
14 July 1969 – 3 December 1982
Preceded by Veli Akhundov
Succeeded by Kamran Baghirov
Candidate member of the 25th, 26th Politburo
In office
5 March 1976 – 22 November 1982
Personal details
Born Heydar Alirza oghlu Aliyev
(1923-05-10)10 May 1923
Nakhchivan ASSR, Azerbaijan SSR, Transcaucasian SFSR, Soviet Union
Died 12 December 2003(2003-12-12) (aged 80)
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Nationality Azerbaijani
Political party

Communist Party of the Soviet Union

New Azerbaijan Party
Spouse(s) Zarifa Aliyeva
Children Sevil Aliyeva
Ilham Aliyev
Awards Hero of Socialist Labor medal.png Hero of Socialist Labor medal.png
Military service
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Service/branch KGB of Azerbaijan SSR
Years of service 1941–1969
Rank Major General

Heydar Alirza oghlu Aliyev, also spelled Gaydar Aliev (Azerbaijani: Heydər Əlirza oğlu Əliyev; Russian: Гейда́р Али́евич Али́ев Geydar Aliyevich Aliyev; 10 May 1923[1] – 12 December 2003), was the third President of Azerbaijan who served from October 1993 to October 2003. As national president he held constitutional powers, but his influence on Azerbaijani politics had begun years earlier. As a young man he had joined the Azerbaijan SSR People's Commissariat for State Security (NKGB) and quickly rose to the rank of Major-General.

The regime established by Heydar Aliyev in Azerbaijan has been described as dictatorial[2][3][4][5][6][7] or authoritarian [8][9][10][11] and repressive.[12] Some political commentators highlight that Aliyev ran a heavy-handed police state, that he rigged elections and muzzled the media[13][14] whereas others emphasize that his balanced policy brought stability to Azerbaijan.[15][16]

Career in the Soviet era

Early life

According to his website, he was born in Nakhchivan City. After graduating from Nakhchivan Pedagogical School, from 1939 to 1941 Aliyev attended the Azerbaijan Industrial Institute (now the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy), where he studied architecture. In 1949 and 1950, he studied at the USSR MGB Officer Corps Qualifications-Raising School. Aliyev's official biography also stated that he studied at Baku State University, graduating with a degree in history in 1957.[17] According to American journalist Pete Earley, Aliyev first attended the Ministry of State Security Academy in Leningrad, graduating in 1944.[18] He also attended senior staff professional development courses at the Dzerzhinsky Higher School of the KGB in Moscow in 1966.[19]

In 1948, he married Zarifa Aliyeva. On 12 October 1955, their daughter Sevil was born. On 24 December 1961, their son Ilham was born. Zarifa Aliyeva died of cancer in 1985.

Early career

Heydar Aliyev served at the Archive Department of the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs of Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1941–1944, then he was appointed to the head of General Department of the Council of People's Commissars of Nakhchivan ASSR. H. Aliyev joined the Azerbaijan SSR People's Commissariat for State Security (NKGB) in 1944. Aliyev became the department head of State Security Committee of Azerbaijan SSR in 1950, after he graduated from Senior Staff Training School of the USSR State Security Committee during 1949-1950.[19] In 1954, as part of a 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,[20] became a deputy chairman of Azerbaijani KGB in 1964, its chairman in 1967 and rose to the rank of a major general.[21]

Leadership of Soviet Azerbaijan

Aliyev was appointed by Leonid Brezhnev to the post of First Secretary of the Central Committee of Azerbaijan Communist Party at its Plenary Session held on 12 July 1969[19] amidst a Soviet anti-corruption campaign,[22][23] Aliyev made some progress in the 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.[24] In the early 1980s, Aliyev barred the offspring of certain legal personnel from attending the Republic's law school, in a purported effort to curb a self-perpetuating elite based on corruption. In 1977, he visited Iran: Mashhad twice and Kerbala once.[25]

During the period of his leadership of Soviet Azerbaijan, Aliyev's efforts led to considerably increased economic, social and cultural growth rates in Azerbaijan SSR.[26] Aliyev became perhaps the most successful republican leader, raising the profile of the underprivileged republic and consistently promoting Azerbaijanis to senior posts.[27][28]

On 22 November 1982, Yuri Andropov promoted Aliyev from candidate to full member of Soviet Politburo[29] and appointed him to the post of First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR,[30] responsible for transportation and social services. Aliyev thus attained the highest position ever reached by an Azerbaijani in the Soviet Union.[31]

Aliyev was forced to resign from this position in 1987 amidst allegations of corruption made against him by Mikhail Gorbachev.[31] Despite that, CIA report states that, Heydar Aliyev became First Deputy Chairman of USSR Council of Ministers and a full Politburo Member who publicly pledged to fight against corruption, free key state personnel and the economy of the Soviet Union from bribery.[32] It is noted in the report that his colleagues understood his intention to deal harshly with corruption was serious and his commitment to the anti-corruption became his trademark within the Soviet Union.[32]

From KGB to leader of Azerbaijan SSR

Aliyev in his KGB uniform.

As head of the KGB's branch in Azerbaijan, Aliyev ran an anti-corruption campaign.[33][34][35] Following the campaign, he became the undisputed leader of Azerbaijan. Aliyev became a candidate (non-voting) member of the Soviet Politburo in 1976. He ran this position until December 1982, when Yuri Andropov promoted him to the office of First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers.[33]Heydar Aliyev also served at the USSR Council of Ministers as the first deputy chairman in 1974-1979.[19]

His star waned following his appointment in 1985 under Mikhail Gorbachev. His political views became something of a liability to him in the era of perestroika, but he still exerted tremendous power in Azerbaijan.[36][37]

Fall and re-invention

After his forced retirement in 1987, Aliyev remained in Moscow until 1990. He suffered a heart attack during this time. Aliyev appeared in the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan SSR in Moscow, demanded that the organizers and executors of the crime committed against the people of Azerbaijan be punished for[38] 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 resigned his membership in 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 deputy to the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan SSR in Baku. Under the pressure and criticism from the groups connected to his nemesis, the then-leader of Soviet Azerbaijan Ayaz Mutallibov, Aliyev again returned to Nakhchivan, where he was elected Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in 1991.

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

Heydar Aliyev was elected as the leader of New Azerbaijan Party at its the constituent congress organized in Nakhchivan on November 21, 1992.[19]

In May–June 1993, when, as a result of a crisis in the government, the country was on the verge of a civil war and faced the peril of losing independence, the people of Azerbaijan demanded to bring Heydar Aliyev to power, and the then leaders of Azerbaijan were obliged to officially invite Heydar Aliyev to Baku. On 24 June 1993, amidst the advancement of insurgent forces under Huseynov's control towards Baku, Elchibey fled from the city to his native village of Keleki in Nakhchivan. Earlier, on 15 June 1993, Aliyev had been elected Chairman of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan, and after Elchibey's flight he also assumed temporary presidential powers.[39] In August 1993, Elchibey was stripped of his presidency by the nationwide referendum, and in October 1993, Aliyev was elected President of Azerbaijan. In May 1994, Aliyev entered into a ceasefire agreement that still remains in force to this very day. However, the conflict remained unresolved, with Armenian control over Nagorno-Karabakh.


Aliyev during his Inaguration.

On October 3, 1993, as a result of nationwide voting, Heydar Aliyev was elected President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.[40] On October 11, 1998, having garnered at the elections, passed in high activeness of the population, 77 percent of the votes, he was re-elected President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.[41] Heydar Aliyev, giving his consent to be nominated as a candidate at the 15 October 2003 presidential elections, relinquished to run at the elections in connection with health problems.[19]

Domestic policy

The Government under Aliyev's leadership carried out legal, political and economical measures between 1993-2003.[42]

Further, Commission for Legal Reforms was established, in 1998 capital punishment was abolished.[43] The institute of the Human Rights Ombudsman was established, amnesty and pardon mechanisms were introduced.[44] Simultaneously, the comprehensive economic reforms including the agrarian reform were carried out; the state property privatization was initiated; the industrial and agricultural crises were lifted.[45][46]

Constitutional reform

Constitutional Commission was assembled by Heydar Aliyev in June 1995 in order to substitute 1978 Azerbaijan SSR Constitution. The first draft was ready in October for public debate[47] and the final version composed of 5 chapters, 12 sections and 147 articles, was confirmed according to results of popular referendum held on November 12, 1995.[48]As a result, separation of power was provided among 3 divisions: legislative (Milli Majlis), executive (President) and judicial (courts).[49]

President Heydar Aliyev suggested amendments to the Constitution of Azerbaijan in June 2002. First amendment to the Constitution of Azerbaijan was approved as the result of referendum took place in August 2002. Consequently, 39 amendments to 23 articles of the Constitution of Azerbaijan were made, proportional party list elections to Parliament was abolished; transferring presidential power to Prime Minister instead of Chairman of Milli Majlis in case of resignation of President was confirmed; simple majority was preferred in the procedure of calculating the results of presidential elections; citizens, courts and Ombudsman of Azerbaijan received right to appeal directly to the Constitutional Court of Azerbaijan.[50][51]

Abolition of Death Penalty

Heydar Aliyev requested elimination of death penalty on February 3, 1998. On his speech addressed to Milli Majlis, Aliyev stated: "I am convinced that the abolition of the death penalty is a crucial step in the humanization of criminal justice policy, moreover it is an important stage in the reform of the legal system as a whole". “Taking into consideration all the facts, I am submitting a draft law on amendments and additions to the Criminal, Criminal-Procedure and Corrective Labor Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan regarding the abolition of the capital punishment in the Republic of Azerbaijan in accordance with Article 96 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the discussion.”[52]Milli Majlis approved the draft law, so on February 10, 1998 the “Law on Amendments and Additions to the Criminal, Criminal-Procedural and Corrective Labor Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan regarding the elimination of the death penalty in the Republic of Azerbaijan” was adopted.[53] As a result, capital punishment was replaced with life imprisonment.[54]

Azerbaijan joined “Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty” on January 22, 1999.[55]

Establishment of Ombudsman Institution

Heydar Aliyev issued a decree on “Measures for Ensuring Human and Civil Rights and Freedoms” on February 22, 1998. State Program on "Protection of Human Rights" was confirmed by the Presidential Order dated 18 June 1998.[56] [57] Ombudsman institution in Azerbaijan was established based on this State Program and commitments before CoE[56] according to the Constitutional Law “On the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan” adopted on 28 December 2001[58] and Presidential Decree dated 5 March 2002 on implementation of this law.[57] Elmira Suleymanova was appointed as the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) among 3 nominees requested by later President Heydar Aliyev according to the Decision № 362 of the Milli Majlis on July 2, 2002.[59][60]

Foreign policy

A meeting between Heydar Aliyev with Vladimir Putin in Kremlin on 25 January 2002.

During the presidency of Heydar Aliyev, foreign policy of Azerbaijan was rebuilt and transformed into balanced policy. The bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and other countries, as well as cooperation with international organizations, started to deepen.[61]

  • Relations with NATO. Partnership for Peace (PfP) Framework Document was signed to enhance security and defense cooperation with NATO on May 4, 1994.[65] Aliyev approved PfP Presentation Document on April 19, 1996. In November 1997, Azerbaijan joined the PfP Planning and Review Process.[66] Azerbaijan became an associate member of due to the decision of NATO PA in November.[67]
  • Relations with EU. The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement came into force on June 22, 1999 which was signed in Luxembourg between the European Union and the Republic of Azerbaijan on cooperation in the field of trade, investment, economy, legislation, culture, immigration and the prevention of illicit trade on April 22, 1996. Azerbaijan received assistance from EU for the economic reforms in the country through TACIS and TRACECA programmes.[68] “Restoration of the Historic Silk Road” international conference was organized in Baku on 8 September 1998 with the support of EU TACIS and TRACECA programmes based on the initiative of later presidents Heydar Aliyev and Eduard Shevardnadze.[69]

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 6 August Aliyev returned to the United States for treatment of congestive heart failure and kidney problems. He stood down from the presidency at the start of October 2003 and appointed his son Ilham as his party's sole presidential candidate. On 12 December 2003, President Heydar Aliyev died at the Cleveland Clinic.[70] He was buried at the Alley of Honor cemetery in Baku.

Ilham Aliyev duly won the presidential election of 15 October 2003 but international observers again criticized the contest as falling well below expected standards.[71] This transfer of power became the first case of top-level succession in the former Soviet Union.[72]


Throughout his life, Heydar Aliyev was awarded a number of state orders and medals, international awards, elected honorable doctor of universities in many countries, including the Order of Lenin four times, the Order of the Red Star once and Hero of the Socialist Labor twice. On 27 March 1997 in Kiev, Ukraine, Aliyev received Ukraine's highest award, the Yaroslav Mudry Order, and on 13 April 1999, Turkey's highest honor, the Peace Premium of Atatürk Order. On 3 April 2003, he was elected a professor and authorized member of the Academy of Safety of the Russian Federation, and was subsequently awarded the Premium of Y.V.Andropov. On 10 May 2003, he was decorated with the order of Saint Apostle Andrey Pervozvanny—Russia's supreme award.[1][73]

Honours and awards

Soviet Union

See also


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  3. ^ Hans Slomp. Europe, A Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics: An American Companion to European Politics. ABC-CLIO, 2011. ISBN 0-313-39181-5, 9780313391811. P.672
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  6. ^ Elisabeth Precht. Azerbaijan In the Shadow of a Dictatorship //Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation, 2012
  7. ^ В турецком учебнике Гейдар Алиев представлен как диктатор // Сontact.az. 2013 Февраль 09 «В изданной в Турции учебнике „Конституционное права“ для студентов университетов бывший президент Азербайджана Гейдар Алиев назван „диктатором“» (copy)
  8. ^ Rise of Leader's Son Sharpens Azerbaijan's Identity Crisis // Washington Post. August 9, 2003
  9. ^ David J. Kramer and Richard Kauzlarich. It’s time for the United States to act on Azerbaijan // Washington Post, September 8, 2016
  10. ^ Svante E. Cornell Democratization Falters in Azerbaijan // Journal of Democracy 12.2 (2001) 118—131
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    Azerbaijani politician who, was one of the most powerful men in Azerbaijan for more than 30 years, as deputy chairman (1964-67) and chairman (1967-69) of the regional KGB, as secretary (1969-87) of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, and from 1993 as the repressive and autocratic president of independent Azerbaijan.

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  73. ^ Mexico City Removes Aliyev Statue
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External links

  • Official website
  • Official website Heydar Aliyev Foundation
  • Envisioning the Nation - Interview: Azerbaijan's President, Heydar Aliyev
Party political offices
Preceded by
Vali Akhundov
First Secretary of the Azerbaijan Communist Party
Succeeded by
Kamran Bagirov
Political offices
Preceded by
Parliamentary Chairman of Nakhchivan
Succeeded by
Vasif Talibov
Preceded by
Abulfaz Elchibey
President of Azerbaijan
Succeeded by
Ilham Aliyev
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