Rustam Ibrahimbeyov: We are Not a Project of the Kremlin!

“I am grateful to Leyla Yunus and all those who believe that a single candidate from the democratic forces in the presidential elections in Azerbaijan should be me,” said Rustam Ibrahimbeyov, famous playwright and co-chair of the Forum of Intellectuals, in an interview with Turan.

He noted that for a long time the main task of the Forum of Intellectuals was to support civil society, to form an effective public opinion without interference in political life. However, for various reasons, the formation of the National Council demanded active participation in politics, said the playwright.

“I am very pleased that we managed to overcome a lot of internal contradictions and create a fairly representative coalition of democratic forces, representing the general public. I also know that some members of the National Council have already started to exert pressure and this process will continue. The authorities are sure that this idea will fail, so they will use their traditional methods,” said Ibrahimbeyov.

Referring to the challenges of the National Council, he pointed out that first they will settle the protocol issues: the adoption of the Charter, the Action Plan, the adoption of the statement of the members of the National Council which will reflect the goals and objectives. Then a chairman will be elected.

“Nomination of my candidacy is a surprise for me. I know at least two or three people, who are quite prepared for this role. Some think that I mean Vagif Huseynov and someone else from abroad. But all this is nonsense, and I meant those who are among us, and participated in the creation of the National Council, and I will nominate them, but if majority supports me, then I will take over this burden, and I have nowhere to retreat,” said the playwright.

Commenting on the accusations from pro-government media in Azerbaijan that the National Council is a project of the Kremlin, Ibrahimbeyov said that he repeatedly denied it.

“First of all, the project of the Kremlin is the government of President Ilham Aliyev. They have very close relations, official Baku endlessly declares that Russia is our strategic partner.

The Kremlin helped the current president to come to power at the request of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Therefore, it is not right to think that Russia wants some democratic reforms in Azerbaijan. Therefore, we will ask Russia, America, Europe, Turkey and others to support our democratic initiatives”, said the playwright, adding he was not sure that Moscow will understand the request. “Because all the previous, rigged elections were recognized by Russia,” said the playwright.

“The authorities repeat their provocation, they have applied in 2005. Then a group of people was accused of collaborating with the United States and was arrested on charges of plotting a coup, and now they want to use the same scheme, but condemning Russia. The purpose of this plot of the authorities is simple, to neutralize the brightest people and disarm them ideologically, and perhaps physically,” said Ibrahimbeyov.

He expressed surprise that media which calls itself independent believes this provocation of the authorities and does not ask questions: if Russia is so bad, why in Baku hosts meeting of MGIMO, why do high-ranking Russian officials and leaders come to Azerbaijan, why do officials from Baku disappear in Moscow and in other cities with bags of money and try to appease Russian officials?

“The National Council is an internal need, so I call on journalists to support this idea, which matured over the years, and was not brought in from outside,” said Ibrahimbeyov.

At the same time, he repeated the National Council will ask for support not only Russia but also the United States, Europe and Turkey.

Does the National Council receive money from so-called Union of Billionaires? (Union of Azerbaijani organizations of Russia (UAOR)? Rustam Ibrahimbeyov gave a categorical answer – “no.”

“We do not have a dime. Now I’m going abroad for the National Council with my personal money,” he stressed. As for the UAOR, the organization was created to solve the problems of Azerbaijanis in Russia. “They are business people involved in business. They are very close to the president of Azerbaijan, and people who used to do business with him, or are his relatives. Therefore, the opinion that they give money to the National Council is ridiculous. They are afraid of policy and stay away from such issues,” said Ibrahimbeyov.

When asked how he would formulate the problem of a single candidate, Ibrahimbeyov said he would have to deal with complex issues, for the authorities are using all methods to destroy his rival. “They will do their best: planting drugs, libel and slander, arrests and killings. Therefore, the fate of a single candidate will be very heavy. As for his problems, in the first place, to bring truth to the community. There is little doubt that the government will manipulate the election, because I believe that the people will vote for a single candidate from the democratic forces. Here then is an important position of the international democratic community, so they did not declare the legitimacy of the elections. And, of course, the key word will say our people.

If we win, then a single candidate will have to begin necessary political reforms: to make changes in the Constitution, new parliamentary elections, and others, then, declare new presidential elections,” said Ibrahimbeyov.

Asking the question when he will return to Baku, the playwright said that immediately after the first meeting of the National Council, he will make a tour abroad to meet with representatives of the democratic circles of various countries and inform the National Council and the processes in Azerbaijan.

“It will take 15 days, and they will return to Baku,” said Rustam