NATO, EU Responses Sought as New Explosive Claims Surface About Azerbaijani Presidential Aide

Facing increasingly severe allegations of corruption, misconduct, and ethical breaches, Hikmat Hajiyev (third from the left), Azerbaijani presidential assistant, meets with the NATO Defense Policy and Planning Committee (DPRC), which promotes transparency, good governance, and the fight against corruption as inseparable security principles. X (formerly Twitter)

 

June 16, 2024

In the ongoing coverage of explosive allegations against Hikmet Hajiyev, the influential presidential assistant on foreign policy to Azerbaijan’s leader Ilham Aliyev, a new video from the Azad Soz YouTube channel has significantly raised the stakes.

The channel’s operator, Azeri blogger Tural Sadigly based in Europe, had previously accused Hajiyev of nepotism by securing high-paying jobs at the state oil giant SOCAR for his wife Aygun Huseynova and the spouse of his deputy Nusrat Suleymanov.

 

Systematic Misappropriation of State Funds

However, Sadigly’s latest video makes far more incendiary claims, alleging Hajiyev has systematically misappropriated state funds for personal enrichment through entities he directly or indirectly controls.

According to Sadigly’s revelations, Hajiyev has siphoned money from the government-backed Nizami Ganjavi International Center, the AIR Center think tank, and the Media Development Agency – channeling the illicit funds through hired cronies at those organizations.

Sadigly claims the assets and properties obtained through this alleged graft are registered under the name of Hajiyev’s mother-in-law, Sara Huseynova, in an apparent attempt to cover his tracks.

Perhaps most explosively, the blogger accuses Hajiyev of involvement in an illegal gold trading business in Dubai through his former associate Elnur Aliyev, who later served as Azerbaijan’s deputy culture minister.

Sadigly alleges that the seeds of this illicit partnership were planted years ago when both men worked for the Azerbaijani government—Hajiyev as an embassy employee in Egypt and Aliyev first at the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia, then as Azerbaijan’s trade representative in the UAE.

 

Claims of Ethical Breach and Personal Favoritism

The apparent insiders leaking these sordid details to Sadigly also claim Hajiyev unethically promoted the career of an unnamed Azerbaijani singer in exchange for a romantic relationship, a revelation the blogger has threatened to expose in future videos.

While the specific sources remain unconfirmed, the granular nature of these new claims strongly suggests they originate from disgruntled factions within Azerbaijan’s government concerned by Hajiyev’s unrestrained influence and power.

So far, the presidential aide has maintained the crucial backing of President Aliyev himself and avoided any substantive media coverage beyond Sadigly’s Azad Soz channel in Azerbaijan’s tightly-controlled press environment.

 

Western Powers Questioned on Hajiyev Scandal: Silence or Strategy?

The Azeri Herald has repeatedly sought comment from the U.S., NATO, and EU regarding their official dealings with Hajiyev amidst the mounting allegations of corruption, nepotism, and abuse of power.

In their response to three consecutive media queries by the Herald, the U.S. Department of State explained their recent meeting with Hajiyev as part of “routine procedure.” They stated that human rights concerns and the release of unjustly detained individuals in Azerbaijan were raised with Hajiyev. The Department also emphasized that media freedom should be respected when questioned about the media crackdown on Tural Sadigly after he exposed Hajiyev. However, the Department did not provide direct comments on specific pointed questions, likely to keep diplomatic channels open.

NATO also sent an initial response to The Azeri Herald, noting that Hajiyev was received by NATO Defense Policy and Planning Committee (DPRC) to discuss security matters with Azerbaijan. However, the Herald’s main question—regarding the rationale for discussing security issues with an official facing severe allegations such as corruption, mismanagement, and lack of transparency, which are crucial components of security as propagated by NATO—remains unanswered. The Herald has contacted the North Atlantic Alliance again for clarification.

The European Union was also contacted for comments on Hajiyev, as he was granted an audience with its officials in Brussels.

As the sordid revelations rapidly metastasize, a growing cloud of suspicion hangs over Hajiyev’s future. While he seemingly retains the powerful President Ilham Aliyev’s backing for now, the intensifying litany of credible-seeming allegations has the potential to destabilize dynamics within Azerbaijan’s government power structure.

It remains to be seen how much longer President Ilham Aliyev  of Azerbaijan will deem his top advisor an asset rather than an intolerable liability. The Azeri Herald will continue pursuing the substantive facts in this developing scandal.

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