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Gangster Al Capone as last hope of Azerbaijanis in Russia (Our editorial)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

Recent events around the Azerbaijani diaspora in Moscow obliged us to return again to one of the most alarming, if not fateful, problems of the national agenda: the fate of our compatriots in Russia. When it comes to the Azerbaijani diaspora as a separate sociopolitical category, then, of course, the multi-million Azerbaijani community in Russia is primarily meant.

Over the past years, both Russian Azerbaijanis themselves and those sympathising from Baku have still not managed to solve the main task: to achieve the integration of our compatriots into a single and influential organisation. But Russia is not only the leading political ally and the most important economic partner of Azerbaijan, but also the guarantor of a rather fragile regional security system. And not only the fate of Azerbaijanis, scattered over the vast expanses of a great power, depends on the influence of the diaspora, but also the mentality of the political elite and the centres of strategic decision-making regarding the fate of our region, and of our country.

Diaspora is not only a socio-ethnic and cultural, but also, of course, the political integrity of people in a foreign space. The diaspora mission includes political lobbying in the interests of the historical homeland.

However, diaspora formation in Russia is still our main headache.

Background

At the dawn of the Putin era, largely due to the personal intervention of Heydar Aliyev, the authorities of Azerbaijan succeeded in realising the overriding idea of integrating all strata and classes of Azerbaijanis in Russia into a single influential organisation. The All-Russian Azerbaijani Congress (ARAC) gathered in its ranks both representatives of the progressive intelligentsia, and prominent scholars, and, of course, world-famous oligarchs such as Vagit Alekperov, Aras Agalarov, Telman Ismayilov, Iskender Halilov...

However, years passed, and unscrupulous and irresponsible figures crept into the administrative corridors of the Congress. Opportunism, amateurishness and theft, the trivial struggle for wild grants caused irreparable damage to the reputation of the organisation, at the origins of which stood many prominent Russian Azerbaijanis. Another nail in the coffin of the ARAC was the new policy of the Kremlin in relation to national and ethnic minorities. The Russian authorities, concerned about the strengthening of lobbying aspirations of neighbouring states through a diaspora mission and in order to avoid inter-ethnic contradictions, revised the conceptual system of relations with communities: the Kremlin staked on the idea of implementing national-cultural autonomies. The Russian authorities, naturally, being guided by their own national interests, tried to limit as much as possible the relationship of diaspora groups with their historic homelands.

What's next? The Russian authorities closed the All-Russian Azerbaijani Congress, as well as sovereign diaspora organisations of other countries, proposing a new built model of national policy and interaction with diasporas in the format of national-cultural autonomies. And all the heads of autonomies entered the special Council under the president of Russia. The Kremlin has tightly tied all diaspora groups to itself, limiting as much as possible the influence of other states. Perhaps Azerbaijan, like other CIS countries, was not entirely happy with this new model, since it limited the possibilities of manipulation. Our field noticeably narrowed. In Baku, as in Yerevan or Kyiv, they perfectly understood that within the framework of the new model, when disputes or contradictions with the Russian authorities arise, it will be much more difficult for the diaspora to express the mindset of the historical homeland. But Azerbaijan, like other CIS countries, has little choice. After all, the diaspora mission carries not only political tasks, but also social functions. Indeed, besides the national and political interests of the state, the interests of vulnerable Azerbaijanis are an important priority for us. To a greater extent, those Azerbaijanis who stand behind the counters in the markets. And the recent clash between Azerbaijanis and Chechens in Moscow has once again highlighted the acute problem of the absence of diaspora self-organisation.

So, ARAC is gone, and we need to accept it. The last statement of the last head of the Congress, a prominent Azerbaijani scientist in Moscow, Fazil Gurbanov, did not leave room for doubts: this organisation could not be restored. But what are they doing to recreate the diaspora? Fazil Gurbanov decides to create a new organisation: the Congress of Russian Azerbaijanis. It turns out that we are again stepping on the same rake. Indeed, it can almost be assumed with full confidence that the Russian authorities will not register this organisation either. Making decisions, it would be necessary to analyse the new national policy of the Kremlin. And the main principles and theses of the new policy are laid down in Vladimir Putin's decree 'On approval of the concept of state national policy' and the Law 'On National-Cultural Autonomy.' That is, it is necessary to understand once and for all: the Russian authorities have indicated to all diasporas the only form of national-cultural self-determination: autonomy! What did the influential and prominent Azerbaijanis in Russia, first of all, Fazil Gurbanov himself, have to do? To join the Moscow-based or all-Russian organisation of cultural autonomy, AzerRos, and by democratic, legal, and public struggle to take power in this diaspora organisation alone recognised by the Kremlin. Is it really so difficult to understand the obvious truth: the Russian authorities do not want and will not allow the emergence of another organisation.

ARAC's last congress

Whipping boys

I ask myself a trivial and hackneyed question: will we allow someone to our monastery with their own charter? No. Not even our political ally, Russia. Any attempt to interfere in our internal affairs will be annoying and suppressed. So why do we want to impose our whim on the Russian authorities? If we indicated to the Russians the format of national-cultural self-determination that we defined: the Russian community headed by deputy Mikhail Zabelin, the Russian authorities identified a single platform for Azerbaijanis and other diasporas: autonomy. Reproaches and questions are heard: the puppet leaders of these organisations do not satisfy us, and the head of AzerRos, Agadadash Karimov, became related to Armenians under conditions of the continuing ethnic conflict. First, the interstate and ethnic conflict continues outside of Russia. Secondly, Agadadash Karimov, like his Armenian relatives, are citizens of Russia, and any such accusation against this public figure is qualified as inciting ethnic hatred. And this is a crime! It is possible, and most likely necessary to remove A.Karimov from the position of chairman of the Moscow organisation. But after all, not by such barbaric and wild methods of public obstruction and xenophobia, to which, say, the journalist deported from Russia, Fuad Abbasov, called.

The main misfortune of Azerbaijanis in Russia are poorly educated, faceless rogues, the Black Hundred crowd, which chose the niche of consolidating the diaspora for the sake of their personal interests.

Such a swindler as Soyun Sadigov, or a trickster Fuad Abbasov, who claimed the exceptional role of leadership in the diaspora, are a shameful stain on the reputation of our diaspora groups.

Fuad Abbasov and Agadadash Karimov

The project of Fuad Abbasov, a 'whipping boy in the TV box,' invented by Russian special services, is the subject of a separate article. Indeed, over the years, this tongue-tied, poorly educated and comic 'journalist' has been identified in the minds of the mass Russian viewer with the Azerbaijani half-truth and unripe Turkish tomatoes. The cold war with Turkey after the downed Russian fighter was left behind, the project lost its relevance and the abandoned 'Turkish journalist,' of whom no one had really heard in Ankara and Istanbul, very soon found a convenient path in Moscow markets. For some reason, in the understanding of many of our activists, the path to the stomach or pocket lies through the diaspora straight from Moscow markets. Where else to find such a solid roof in the form of a diaspora mission, if not in Moscow?

And in the conditions of absolute inaction of the well-known and popular in Russia, venerable Azerbaijanis, representatives of the intelligentsia and the scientific world, another grotesque character reincarnated in Moscow.

Escobar and Al Capone

A leader by the name of Frank Al Capone has recently begun to claim leadership of the Azerbaijani diaspora. This is not a ridiculous or funny joke, but our bitter real truth. What comes to mind when one hears the name of Al Capone? Of course, bootlegging, pimping, gangsterism and drug trafficking. For many decades, he was hunted by the New York police, they were looking for him in Italy, because as a young man Frank had managed to shed a lot of blood. The question is: what kind of a politician or public figure in the modern world can take the pseudonym of Al Capone? This thought barely fits into my head, how can one choose a thug as an idol? That is, the name itself already speaks for itself: crimes, murder, blood and drugs.

Imagine, among the Azerbaijani diaspora there was another arch-trickster, who called himself Frank Al Capone. And this man at one time claimed the highest authority in Azerbaijan itself. Of course, the appearance of such surly characters in the hurricane 1990s did not cause surprise or confusion, but only a smile, sarcasm, but also understanding: after all, this was the requirement of the era.

Al Capone, aka Mammadov

Not only the squares, but also the power offices were dominated by people from the street. A gangster came to power in Georgia, the seller of watermelons occupied the prime minister's chair in Baku, the swindler Mavrody burst into the State Duma's salons in Russia... 

The long-suffering history of the 1990s, adorned with such plebeians and criminals, has brought us a certain sense of self-defence, immunity to passers-by in big-time politics. And at the very end of the 1990s, a man named Frank Al Capone appeared in Azerbaijan, announcing the creation of a political party 'XXI Century.' Journalists, including myself, had to conduct a lot of investigations in order to establish the true name of this strange pseudo-mafia tycoon, who had declared his political ambitions. It turned out that a certain Fuzuli Mammadov, a native of Ordubad district, was hiding under the name of the gangster syphilitic Al Capone. And this Capone Mammadov arrived in Baku with huge money. In those days, however, as in all eras unattractive and hateful to people, so much money could be earned only by criminal means.

Capone Mammadov began to publish in Baku the first colour newspaper with a million copies, which was distributed free on the streets. These newspapers talked about the only hope and salvation of Azerbaijan: Al Capone, who promised our people general welfare. Somehow, Mammadov's political struggle was reminiscent of the ascent to politics of the glorious Colombian drug lord, MP Pablo Escobar. Al Capone Mammadov, like Pablo Escobar, stated that he came into politics to save the poor...

Once Mammadov was selling fruit in the area of River Station in Moscow. But a few years later, the Russian authorities focused their attention on another trade of Al Capone. It turned out that the leader of the party of the next century was a simple drug dealer. Of course, the merchant of fruits did not even dream of the scale of Escobar, but after spending several years behind bars, Al Capone was still released. And he asked journalists to no longer call him by the name of the boss of the Italian mafia. This time he appeared in the form of a baby: Fuzuli Mammadov, it was under this name that he came out. So he decided to go out the second time too. Of course, the entire Azerbaijani public has forgotten about the evil and inappropriate joke with Al Capone's reincarnation. What does not happen in our crazy and absurd times?

But just last year, a man named Fuzuli Mammadov emerged again in Baku. Is that Al Capone? Yes, he is. Al Capone, like 20 years ago, invaded the Baku political market with millions. He has a lot of money again. And he again scatters this money. However, it seems Mammadov no longer trades fruit. There is no information about his sources of income. But F.Mammadov spends millions in Baku, maybe tens of millions. And for charity too. What for? Did he remember the covenants and thoughts of Escobar about the poor in Colombia, sorry, in Azerbaijan?

Al Capone gathers Azerbaijanis in Moscow

A few weeks ago, Al Capone gathered unfamiliar and barely noticeable representatives of the Azerbaijani diaspora in a luxurious hall of a pompous Moscow hotel. And at this conference, Azerbaijani Escobar announced the creation of a new diaspora organisation. Then began paid PR campaign in the media. And a few days ago, Mammadov Al Capone appealed to the Russian Ministry of Justice with a request to register the new diaspora organisation. One can imagine the absurd expression on the faces of Russian officials, taken by surprise by the Al Capone metamorphosis...

A sense of shame overwhelmed us! How many more such Al Capones will claim the role of leaders of Azerbaijanis in Russia? Time does not wait. Our intelligentsia, pundits, prominent Azerbaijanis, of whom there are many in Russia, must finally take the initiative in their hands and declare themselves. It is necessary as soon as possible to develop a diaspora concept, work out a program for our diaspora self-organisation in Russia, and finally, put an end to this long and almost scandalous matter. At stake is the reputation of not only millions of Azerbaijanis, but of the whole of Azerbaijan! Are we not capable of creating at least one self-sufficient and worthy organisation? Really? That is the question!

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