Ilham Aliyev

Ilham Aliyev
İlham Əliyev
Илhам Əлијев
4th President of Azerbaijan
Assumed office
31 October 2003
Prime Minister Artur Rasizade
Preceded by Heydar Aliyev
7th Prime Minister of Azerbaijan
In office
4 August 2003  4 November 2003
President Heydar Aliyev
Preceded by Artur Rasizade
Succeeded by Artur Rasizade
Leader of the New Azerbaijan Party
Assumed office
31 October 2003
Preceded by Heydar Aliyev
Personal details
Born İlham Heydər oğlu Əliyev
(1961-12-24) 24 December 1961
Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, Soviet Union
Political party New Azerbaijan Party
Spouse(s) Mehriban Pashayeva (1983–present)
Children Leyla
Alma mater Moscow State Institute of International Relations
Religion Shia Islam

Ilham Heydar oghlu Aliyev (Azerbaijani: İlham Heydər oğlu Əliyev, Илhам Һејдəр оғлу Əлијев; born 24 December 1961) is the fourth and current President of Azerbaijan, in office since 2003. He also functions as the Chairman of the New Azerbaijan Party and the head of the National Olympic Committee. Ilham Aliyev is the son of Heydar Aliyev, who was President of Azerbaijan from 1993 to 2003.

Early life

Aliyev was born in Baku in 1961. In 1977, Aliyev entered the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-MSIIR) and in 1982 continued his education as a postgraduate.[1] In 1985 he received a PhD degree in history.[1] From 1985 to 1990 Aliyev lectured at MSUIR.[1]

Personal life

Ilham Aliyev married Mehriban Aliyeva in Baku on 22 December 1983. They have three children: Leyla, Arzu and Heydar. Apart from his native Azerbaijani, he is fluent in English, French, Russian and Turkish.[1]

Political career

Early years

In May or June 1994, Ilham Aliyev was appointed as vice-president of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). He participated as one of the key figures during the negotiations between the Azerbaijani government and Western oil companies during the conclusion of new contracts now known as the "Contract of the Century". In 1995, Aliyev was elected to the National Assembly of Azerbaijan; later he became president of the National Olympic Committee (still incumbent) and head of the Azerbaijan delegation to the Council of Europe. In August 2003, two months prior to the presidential elections, he was appointed as Prime Minister.[2] In October 2003, Heydar Aliyev, suffering failing health, stepped down as President.[3]

2003 election

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is greeted by Ilham Aliyev, August 2004

The official results of the October 15, 2003, elections gave victory to Ilham Aliyev, who earned 76.84% of the votes.[4]

2008 election

Ilham Aliyev was re-elected in 2008 with 87% of the polls, while opposition parties boycotted the elections. In a constitutional referendum in 2009, term limits for the presidency were abolished and freedom of the press was restricted.

In 2009, following his reelection as president, Aliyev passed a referendum which removed the presidential consecutive term limit, thereby allowing him to run for president as many times as he wishes. The opposition claimed this to be a violation of the Azerbaijani constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.[5]

The 2010 parliamentary elections produced a Parliament completely loyal to Aliyev: for the first time in Azerbaijani history, not a single candidate from the main opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front or Musavat parties was elected. The Economist subsequently scored Azerbaijan as an authoritarian regime, at 140th place (out of 167) in its 2011 Democracy Index.[6]

Repeated protests were staged against Aliyev's rule in 2011, calling for more democracy and the ouster of the government. Aliyev responded by ordering a security crackdown, using force to crush attempts at revolt in Baku. Officials loyal to the president dismissed protesters' comparison of Azerbaijan to other countries considered to be part of the same revolutionary wave that rocked North Africa and Western Asia beginning in December 2010, and Aliyev rejected the precedent set by leaders in Armenia, Oman, Jordan, and other affected states by refusing to make concessions. Well over 400 Azerbaijanis were arrested after protests began in March 2011.[7] Opposition leaders, including Musavat's Isa Gambar, vowed to continue demonstrating, although police had little difficulty stopping protests almost as soon as they began.[8] Amnesty International in its Media Briefing of 2012 reported that the "crackdown on the free speech has intensified in recent years". The report highlighted that "In Azerbaijan, people who exercise this fundamental right [freedom of speech] to criticise President Ilham Aliyev, his family or government, risk being threatened, attacked or imprisoned – whether they do so on- or off-line".[9]

2013 election

In the 2013 presidential elections, held on 9 October, Aliyev won with 85 percent of the vote, thus securing a third five-year term.[10] A day before voting began, a smartphone application run by the Central Election Commission showed Aliyev winning the election with 72.76 percent of the vote, suggesting that the election results were prefabricated. Azerbaijani officials claimed the results were those of the 2008 election, yet the candidates listed were from the 2013 ballot.[11] Aliyev's main rivals in the election were Jamil Hasanli and Igbal Agazade.

In 2013, Ilham Aliyev faced criticism from the United States and Amnesty International for election 'irregularities' along with crackdowns against journalists and opposition activists, including the jailing of election monitors.[12]

Ilham Aliyev with his first lady during the Moscow Victory Day Parade, 9 May 2015

Ilham Aliyev's image remains largely controversial. He has been criticized for his authoritarian rule[13][14][15] and sometimes described as the head of corruption in Europe by analysts and political commentators.[16][17][18][19][20][21] Aliyev's government has been listed as one of the most corrupt in Europe by Transparency International.[22][23]

Party affiliations and foreign relations

Aliyev and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, D.C., 30 March 2016

On March 26, 2005, Aliyev was officially elected as the ruling New Azerbaijan Party chairman. The opposition denounced this as a violation of state laws, because according to the law on political parties, the president should have no party affiliation.

In April 2006, President Aliyev made a state visit to Washington, D.C. It was a remarkably successful trip, at least in terms of image. Speaking at a public forum sponsored by the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, Aliyev discussed oil, economic development, and democracy with an audience of reporters and others. The visit was capped with a private meeting in the White House with President George W. Bush, who told reporters that their discussion was "really interesting", although he also said the meeting was "candid" – sometimes a code word for "tense". Opposition groups said that an official meeting with President Bush sent an inappropriate signal that the violence and intimidation of the 2005 parliamentary election was now a closed matter.[24]



In 2010, WikiLeaks uncovered a diplomatic cable dispatched by the US Embassy in the Republic of Azerbaijan, part of the cache of documents obtained by the WikiLeaks website, that explicitly compared Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to a mafia crime boss, leaving many to wonder if his government was actually democratic and whether people truthfully believed that Azerbaijan does not repress minority populations.[25] A number of groups have also complained to the Commission on Human Rights for the purpose of adopting a resolution, which urges Azerbaijan to guarantee the preservation of the cultural, religious and national identity of the Talysh people in light of repeated claims of repression.[26]

Ramil Safarov repatriation

In 2012, Aliyev convinced the government of Hungary to transfer convicted murderer Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan to complete the rest of his prison term. While attending a NATO-sponsored English-language course in Hungary, Safarov had murdered an Armenian lieutenant who was also taking the course, Gurgen Margaryan, while Margaryan was asleep. Safarov had been tried and sentenced to life imprisonment in Hungary. However, after being extradited to Azerbaijan, Safarov received a hero's welcome; he was promoted to the rank of major, and given an apartment and over eight years of back pay, covering the time he had spent in jail.[27][28]

Aliyev with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, 23 January 2012

Statements about Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh

Aliyev has been cited as calling all Armenian people in the world as the enemies of Azerbaijan,[29][30][31] and as regularly threatening to take over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the entire Armenian Republic through military force.[32][33][34]

In 2008, Aliyev declared that “Nagorno Karabakh will never be independent; the position is backed by international mediators as well; Armenia has to accept the reality" and that "in 1918, Yerevan was granted to the Armenians. It was a great mistake. The khanate of Iravan was the Azeri territory, the Armenians were guests there."[35]


Aliyev with his wife during their visit to Poland.

In 2012 the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) named Ilham Aliyev Person of the Year (a title bestowed for figuring prominently in 2012 on stories on crime and corruption) after "well-documented evidence" revealed that "his family has secret ownership stakes in the country’s largest businesses including bank, construction companies, gold mines and phone companies".[36] According to ICIJ latest report, Aliyev's family has been a shareholder of big offshore companies.[37] As reported by The Washington Post and Mail Online, Aliyev's two daughters share a property portfolio of about £50 million – across Dubai, Paris and London and Aliyev's 11-year-old son in Dubai owns "nine waterfront mansions" with a total price of "about $44 million – or roughly 10,000 years' worth of salary for the average citizen of Azerbaijan".[38][39][40][41]


Despite Aliyev's being born a Shia Muslim, his government has cracked down on shows of Shia religiosity in Azerbaijan. Religious Shia politicians and ulama (scholars) deemed "dangerous" have been arrested, Shia organizations disbanded and religious manifestations violently broken up by the Azeri police.[42]

Panama Papers

On 3 April 2016 an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released leak of documents on offshore companies created by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. It revealed Aliyev's family ties to offshore companies controlling major sectors of Azerbaijan's economy.[43] According to leakage "The family of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev leads a charmed, glamorous life, thanks in part to financial interests in almost every sector of the economy. His wife, Mehriban, owns banks, insurance and construction companies, a television station and a line of cosmetics. Their eldest daughter, Leyla, editor of Baku magazine, and her sister, Arzu, have financial stakes in a firm that won rights to mine for gold in the western village of Chovdar and Azerfon, the country’s largest mobile phone business. Arzu is also a significant shareholder in SW Holding, which controls nearly every operation related to Azerbaijan Airlines ("Azal"), from meals to airport taxis. Both sisters and brother Heydar own property in Dubai valued at roughly $75 million in 2010; Heydar is the legal owner of nine luxury mansions in Dubai purchased for some $44 million. The president’s sister, Sevil Aliyeva, a longtime London resident, founded Space TV, a news and entertainment channel in Azerbaijan. She is also the owner of a BVI company, which registration lists her at an address in a West London neighborhood where average home prices touch $9 million."

Public image

Honours and medals

National honours and medals

Ilham Aliyev with insignia of the Order of Merit during a visit to Poland

Foreign honours

International organizations

Honorary degrees

The mark ° shows honours mention on his official website[59]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 "President Biography". Government of Azerbaijan. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  2. "Ilham Heydar oghlu Aliyev". Retrieved 23 December 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  3. "Heydar Aliyev". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 23 December 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  4. "Republic of Azerbaijan Presidential Election". Retrieved 23 December 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  5. Hasanli, Jamil (8 October 2013). "Azerbaijan must use this election to end the Aliyev dynasty". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  6. 2011 Democracy Index
  7. McGuinness, Damien (24 April 2011). "Azerbaijan cracks down hard on protests". BBC News. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  8. Schwirtz, Michael (4 April 2011). "Opposition in Azerbaijan Vows to Step Up Protests". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  10. "Aliyev wins third term as president of Azerbaijan". 9 October 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2016 via Reuters.
  11. Oops Azerbaijan released election results before voting had even started The Washington Post. 9 October 2013.
  12. "Azerbaijan detains election watchdog chief". Reuters. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  13. "Azerbaijan's president to run for third term". The Times of Israel. 8 June 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2013. The 51-year-old Aliyev has been president of the authoritarian, oil-rich Caspian Sea nation since taking over from his ailing father Heydar in October 2003.
  14. Vincent, Rebecca (19 May 2013). "When the music dies: Azerbaijan one year after Eurovision". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 10 June 2013. Over the past several years, Azerbaijan has become increasingly authoritarian, as the authorities have used tactics such as harassment, intimidation, blackmail, attack and imprisonment to silence the regime's critics, whether journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders, political activists, or ordinary people taking to the streets in protest.
  15. McGuinness, Damien (28 May 2013). "Cracking down on dissent in Ilham Aliyev's Azerbaijan". BBC News. Retrieved 10 June 2013. But according to human rights groups, the charges are trumped up - an authoritarian government's attempt to stamp out any Arab Spring-style uprising, they say.
  16. Hiatt, Fred (7 February 2011). "Obama needs a freedom agenda he can believe in". Washington Post. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  17. Scahill, Jeremy (2011). Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. London: Profile Books. p. 238. ISBN 9781847654786. The board of directors includes senior executives from ExxonMobil, Chevron, Cono- coPhilips, and Coca-Cola, while the trustees include Azerbaijan's dictator, Ilham Aliyev, and top neoconservative Richard Perle.
  18. Neukirch, Ralf (4 January 2012). "A Dictator's Dream: Azerbaijan Seeks to Burnish Image Ahead of Eurovision". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  19. Martin, Daniel (9 March 2011). "Now Prince Andrew comes under fire for links to ruler of second corrupt former Soviet state". Daily Mail. Retrieved 10 June 2013. Prince Andrew has developed a 'close friendship' with a billionaire dictator accused of torturing protesters, and lobbied the president of another of the world's 'most corrupt' countries, it has emerged.
  20. Harris, Mike (7 November 2012). "Why is a crucial conference on internet freedom taking place in a dictatorship?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  21. Peck, Tom (1 November 2012). "The Prince, the brutal dictator and a friendship he just won't give up". The Independent. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  22. The Guardian. Corruption index 2012 from Transparency International
  23. Transparency International. Azerbaijan out of Tune?
  24. "Azerbaijan President Visits Washington". Retrieved 23 December 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  25. "Azerbaijan: WikiLeaks Cable Compares Ilham Aliyev to Movie Mafia Bosses". EurasiaNet. 2 December 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  26. "Talysh: WS on the Case of the Talysh People". UNPO. 12 March 2006. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  27. "Ax Killer Pardon Reignites Caucasus War Fears in Oil-rich Region". Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  28. "Azerbaijan Pardons and Frees Convicted Killer". Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  29. Adams, William Lee (11 March 2012). "How Armenia and Azerbaijan Wage War Through Eurovision". Time. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  30. "Armenia pulls out of Azerbaijan-hosted Eurovision show". BBC News. 7 March 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  31. Marshall, Sung In (10 April 2012). "Of Guns and Glamour, Snipers and Sequins: Eurovision 2012 proves to be more than just song and dance". Center for Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  32. "Armenian fascism must receive due assessment – Ilham Aliyev".
  33. "Aliyev Lays Claim to Yerevan, Praises Safarov". Asbarez.
  34. "ANCA Calls on White House to Condemn Aliyev's Anti-Armenian Tirade". The Armenian Weekly.
  35. "Azerbaijani president: Armenians are guests in Yerevan". REGNUM News Agency J. 17 January 2008.
  36. "OCCRP names Aliyev "Person of the Year"". Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  37. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Offshore companies provide link between corporate mogul and Azerbaijan’s president
  38. Washington Post. Pricey real estate deals in Dubai raise questions about Azerbaijan's president
  39. MailOnline. Filthy rich: Britain's favourite dictatorship had so much oil its heiresses bathe in it... but beneath the fabulous wealth of Azerbaijan lurks very murky secrets
  41. Radio Liberty Azerbaijani President's Daughters Tied To Fast-Rising Telecoms Firm
  42. "PressTV-Azerbaijani forces in renewed crackdown on Shias". Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  43. "Panama Papers - The Power Players". Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  44. "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan".
  45. "Azerbaijani president included in 500 most influential Muslims of world book".
  46. Президент Азербайджана вошел в книгу 500 самых влиятельных мусульман мира (in Russian).
  47. Filthy Rich about Aliyev. Full video
  48. "Azerbaijan: In Solidarity with Khadija Ismayilova". Human Rights House Foundation. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  49. Scott Cohn. "The Filthy Rich". CNBC. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  50. Указ Президента України № 458/2008 від 19 травня 2008 року «Про нагородження І. Алієва орденом князя Ярослава Мудрого»(Ukrainian)
  51. "Official State visit of Azerbaijan (Photo)". Presidency of Republic of Turkey. 12 November 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  52. Указ Президента України № 639/2013 від 18 листопада 2013 року «Про нагородження І.Алієва орденом Свободи»(Ukrainian)
  53. "Nikolić ordenja deli u tri smene". 26 November 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  54. Ильхам Алиев награжден высшими наградами Совета командующих пограничными войсками СНГ (in Russian). Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  55. 1 2 3 "ПРЕЗИДЕНТ АЗЕРБАЙДЖАНА". Посольство Азербайджанской Республики в Республике Беларусь.
  56. "Ильхаму Алиеву присвоено звание почетного профессора Белорусского госуниверситета". The First News. 12 November 2009.
  57. "Студенты ФГП приняли участие во встрече с Президентом Азербайджана И.Г. Алиевым". Факультет глобальных процессов МГУ имени М.В. Ломоносова. 22 February 2008.
  58. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Алиев Ильхам Президент Республики Азербайджан. broken link
  59. "Official web-site of President of Azerbaijan Republic - PRESIDENT » Biography". Retrieved 9 August 2016. line feed character in |title= at position 54 (help)

External links

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Political offices
Preceded by
Artur Rasizade
Prime Minister of Azerbaijan
Succeeded by
Artur Rasizade
Preceded by
Heydar Aliyev
President of Azerbaijan
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