Nepotism Allegations Rock Azerbaijan’s State Oil Firm Amid Power Struggle

Rovshan Najaf (left), president of SOCAR, the major Azeri oil company, was reportedly scolded by Aygun Huseynova (right), head of communications and wife of the influential presidential adviser Hikmat Hajiyev. X (formerly Twitter)


May 26, 2024

According to the popular Azeri YouTube channel Azad Soz, a significant quarrel has erupted within SOCAR, the state oil company of Azerbaijan. The conflict involves SOCAR President Rovshan Najaf and Aygun Huseynova, the head of the company’s communication department and wife of presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev.

Azad Soz reports that Huseynova, appointed shortly after her husband’s promotion, has publicly declared she will not accept any reproach from Najaf, seemingly leveraging her husband’s influential position. Huseynova’s career path closely follows her husband’s trajectory. Prior to joining SOCAR, she served in the Press Department of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, where her husband was the spokesperson. When Hajiyev was elevated to the presidential administration, Leya Abdullayeva, an associate of Hajiyev and currently Azerbaijan’s envoy to France, replaced him and brought Huseynova into the press department of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry. Subsequently, Huseynova was transferred to higher positions in SOCAR, and Abdullayeva was appointed as the Azerbaijani envoy to France for her service as a Hajiyev acolyte.

The channel alleges that Huseynova is heavily promoted in Azerbaijani media, which is largely controlled by her husband, thus overshadowing Rovshan Najaf. Reports also claim that she undertakes foreign and domestic trips with her husband without consulting or informing SOCAR’s president. Recently, Huseynova accompanied Hajiyev to Lachin, a border town in Karabakh, for the COP 29 event, which was organized with foreign diplomats in attendance. Critics have questioned her involvement in COP 29, an event focused on green energy, given SOCAR’s primary business in oil production. The event was largely managed by associates of Hajiyev, including Deputy Foreign Minister Yalchin Rafiyev and other deputies.


Controversial Huawei Connection

In a separate development, an investigation by The Azeri Herald has revealed connections between the Hajiyev-Huseynova couple and Chinese tech giant Huawei. During a recent visit to China, Hikmat Hajiyev praised Huawei products and criticized Western opposition to the company, in meetings with Chinese officials and media. Concurrently, Huseynova led an event in Baku, attended by Chinese diplomats and Huawei officials, inaugurating Huawei-led IT security system installations at the SOCAR-owned Baku Oil Academy. Huawei has faced global criticism and sanctions for allegedly using spyware.

Azad Soz highlighted the unusual level of media coverage Hajiyev receives in Azerbaijan, noting that no other aides of President Ilham Aliyev promote themselves as openly. Hajiyev faces numerous allegations of mismanagement, corruption, and nepotism, including retaliation against former Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry officials who spoke out against corruption. Despite these allegations, he continues to maintain an audience with international figures. Recently, he visited the U.S. and met with State Department officials and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. While the State Department described these meetings as routine, they emphasized the urgency of releasing jailed Azerbaijani journalists and dissidents, but declined to comment on the corruption allegations against Hajiyev.

The growing internal conflict and allegations of misconduct raise questions about how long President Aliyev will tolerate the ambitious pursuits of Hajiyev and Huseynova in their bid for greater influence and career advancement.

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