Pres. Aliyev’s Son-in-Law Evacuates An Entire Village for His Business
There are endless scandals involving the Aliyev clan in Azerbaijan. The Current President Ilham Aliyev, who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 2003, took over from his father Heydar Aliyev who was the head of state from 1993 to 2003. To make sure that the Aliyevs rule Azerbaijan for several generations, Ilham Aliyev has appointed his wife as his Vice President. I am certain that she will name one of her children to succeed her, thus prolonging the Aliyev dynasty in Azerbaijan.
The latest scandal in Azerbaijan was exposed by Ardi Pulaj, first published on the Abzas Media and an edited version republished by Globalvoices.org. The article is titled, “In Azerbaijan, an entire village was vacated for the President’s son-in- law.
The village of Garachayli was initially owned by the Grand Mufti of Azerbaijan, Allahshukur Pashazade — the top Muslim cleric of Azerbaijan, who had leased the land to the villagers. Then, in 2007, the village was leased to Shabran Agrocomplex LLC for 49 years after which the company ordered the villagers to vacate the land. One of the villagers, Tahir Rasulov, sued the company for remuneration. But after two years, he lost his lawsuit. “They tortured and tormented me a lot. They threatened me with the police. They took me out of my ancestral home.” The company surrounded the village with a wire fence. “We now look at our ancestral lands from outside the wires,” said Rasulov.
The founder of Shabran Agrocomplex is Baku Agropark which belongs to businessman Samad Gurbanov who is married to Arzu Aliyeva, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev’s youngest daughter.
Gurbanov’s personal investment of $6.9 million in the company was matched with an additional $6 million loan for 10 years at 5% interest by the State Entrepreneurship Development Fund.
The article reported that “Gurbanov’s company was exempted from paying for the electrical wiring installation during the construction of the greenhouse, which was done by a company named Retro Holding, owned by Arif Pashayev, Ilham Aliyev’s father-in-law. Other investment favors included favorable loans for the irrigation infrastructure of the agrocomplex — all on the state’s dime.”
Shohrat Gardashaliyev, a former resident of Garachayli village said: “The gas line goes through here to Agropark and does not provide gas to the people. They give manure to the fields. It’s true, they spend millions on manure, but the people don’t have as much value as manure. We can’t plant crops here. We don’t have land, we don’t own property. It’s all the people’s land, but look, they’ve invaded and taken it away…. I am simply told just fall down and die, let me kick you in the throat and die.”
Tahir Rasulov said: “Names are mentioned here; the name of the president, the name of Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva (vice-president and wife) is mentioned. As soon as one of our cattle crosses to that field, we are told by the management that this is Mrs. Mehriban’s place. So has Mrs. Mehriban appointed a representative here to kill, beat, torture or threaten a citizen?”
Since there are no employment opportunities for the villagers, the only possibility is to work for agrocomplex which has either refused to hire them or has offered a monthly salary of only $200. One villager described the deplorable situation as “modern day slavery.”
Court documents showed that Baku Agropark paid “incredibly cheap rent for the land it leased in the village of Garachayli — an annual rent of $1,500 for 4,300 acres of land.” Rasulov said that he used to pay “a rent of $45 per acre of that land. And yet, Baku Agropark pays less than $2.2 per acre.”
Samad Gurbanov also owns “the Baku Agropark Trading House, engaged in the wholesale trade of fruits and vegetables; Maxitrading LLC, engaged in the import and distribution of food products; as well as several other companies belonging to Mirlex Group (Mirlex Development and Mirlex Construction LLC), engaged in the sale of fire extinguishers, installation of automatic fire alarms, parking, and video surveillance systems. The offices of many of Samad Gurbanov’s companies are located in Port Baku Towers, an elite business center owned by Pasha Holding [belongs to Mrs. Aliyev’s father].”
When Abzas Media journalists tried “to speak with the managers of the agrocomplex in Shabran it was proved futile. The film crew was stopped by a security guard and told none of the managers were at the complex.”
Sadly, “after the residents of the village were forced to flee, they left behind the village graveyard. Ever since the complex was built and their land was taken, they must seek permission from the agrocomplex management even to visit the graves of their late relatives.”
It is very tragic that a government that earns billions of dollars a year from its vast oil and gas reserves is unwilling to share a small part of that wealth with the poor villagers in Azerbaijan.