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Azerbaijan shakes up heads of security, police – why?

Four officials have changed places in senior positions

An unexpected “reshuffling” of the heads of security agencies has taken place in Azerbaijan, after President Ilham Aliyev “swapped” the heads of several ministries and departments.

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– Minister of the Interior Ramil Usubov was appointed secretary of the presidential security council;
– instead of him, the ministry was taken up by his first deputy, Vilayat Eyvazov;
– Madat Quliyev, head of the state security service, became minister of the defense industry;
– Quliyev’s post was taken up by Ali Nagiyev – the former deputy head of the main anti-corruption department under the prosecutor general.

All these changes occurred simultaneously on the evening of June 20, and have bewildered the

Politicians and experts commented on the shake-up.

“What happened shows that the leadership is concerned about the situation in Azerbaijan and is seeking to strengthen the government,” said Sulhaddin Akper, former deputy chairman of the Ministry of National Security (abolished three years ago), a member of the opposition National Council. “For this purpose, proven and reliable personnel, hardliners are moving forward,” he told

Ilham Ismail, head of the Security Research Center and former intelligence officer, considers these changes (as well as the recent increase in the minimum wage) to be a continuation of the reforms undertaken by Ilham Aliyev since January 2019.

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“Behind all this might be a plan to bring the current Vice-President and First Lady of the country to power, Mehriban Aliyev”, said Mehman Aliyev, director of the independent Turan news agency.

The reshuffle coincided with the visit to Russia of the head of the presidential administration Ramiz Mehdiyev. There he met with the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolai Patrushev, and they discussed the interaction of law enforcement agencies and special services. To Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismail and the leader of the opposition Republican Alternative party, Ilgar Mamedov, this coincidence seems “suspicious”, and they suggested on Facebook that it was Patrushev who floated the idea of shaking up the state’s security services to the Azerbaijani leadership.

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