In 1969 Heydar Aliyev
was elected First Secretary of the Central Committee of Soviet
Azerbaijan, the highest position in the Republic. He held the
post for 14 years.
In 1982, Aliyev was appointed as a Full Member of the Politburo,
the highest decision - making body in the Soviet Union. At the
time, the Politburo had 11 to 12 members, 8 or 9 of whom resided
in Moscow (the remainder living in the "periphery"
and not as involved with policy making). Aliyev was the only
Azerbaijani or Muslim ever to hold such a position in the Kremlin.
During this period, most of the Politburo members were quite
old, with the exception of Aliyev, Peripheral Member Eduard Shevardnadze
(1928- ), Mikhail Gorbachev (1931- ) and Grigory Romanov. At
the beginning of Aliyev's term in the Politburo while he was
head of Azerbaijan, Brezhnev (1906-1982) was the Secretary-General
of the Communist Party and the Chairman of Parliament. Yuri Andropov
(1914-1984) succeeded him but died shortly afterwards as did
Chernenko who followed him (1911-1985).
Aliyev was appointed
as First Deputy Prime Minister of the USSR (1982-87) when the
Prime Minister was Nikolay Tikhonov, about 80. This made Aliyev
one of the principal policy makers and enabled him to use his
authority to continue the development of Azerbaijan in receiving
its fair share of attention.
The fact that Aliyev was not a Russian seems to be one of the
major reasons why he was eventually overlooked for the top position
in the Soviet Union (in the 1980s between the years when Brezhnev
and Gorbachev headed the Soviet Union). In 1987, Aliyev resigned
from the Politburo under pressure from Gorbachev and remained
in Moscow under travel restrictions until 1990. The Black January
events in Azerbaijan [when Soviet troops attacked Baku civilians]
led him to formally resign from the Communist Party on July 19,
Aliyev returned to Azerbaijan in mid-1990, but the Communist
system was still very strong so it was impossible for him to
remain in Baku. He went to Nakhchivan where he had grown up and
was soon chosen as a member of Azerbaijan's Parliament representing
Nakhchivan. In June 1993, he was elected Chairman of the Parliament
of the Azerbaijan Republic. Nine days later he was appointed
Acting President when the former president, Abulfaz Elchibey,
left Baku during further social and political unrest. On October
3, 1993 Aliyev was elected President. On October 11, 1998, he
was re-elected for a second five-year term.
(7.4) Winter 1999.
© Azerbaijan International 1999. All rights reserved.
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