For the first time, the United States imposes sanctions on an Azerbaijani official
Sanctions on Azerbaijani official
Azerbaijani police colonel Kerim Alimardanov became the first official in the country to be sanctioned by a foreign state. The US State Department has sanctioned Kerim Alimardanov for violating human rights under the Magnitsky Act. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan denied that the colonel tortured prisoners.
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Alimardanov is an employee of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan (“Band Department”), and appears on a list of more than forty people from different countries for human rights violations and corruption.
“In accordance with Section 7031(c), the US State Department is criminalizing Alimardanov for involvement in gross human rights violations, namely, torturing detainees in 2015 and 2016,” the US State Department said in a statement.
This is the first time that international sanctions have been imposed on an Azerbaijani government official.
What exactly the sanctions are, is not reported. This usually means a ban on entry to the United States, and confiscation of accounts and property in the United States, if any. Persons against whom there is criminal prosecution may be arrested in third countries at the request of the United States.
“Now there are consequences”
Former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Kozlarich noted the importance of the State Department’s move.
“The Baku regime has committed human rights violations with impunity. Now there are consequences. I hope that these sanctions will also apply to officials who are steeped in corruption.”
Ministry of Internal Affairs denies charges
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan denied reports that police colonel Kerim Alimardanov violated human rights and took part in torturing prisoners.
“The employee you named is distinguished by patriotism and love for his people. He is a professional in his field. Alimardanov has done his part in ensuring the security of citizens, in the fight against crime,” Ehsan Zakhidov, head of the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said in response to a request from Radio Liberty.
What is Alimardanov known for?
The name of Alimardanov became known to the public after a police operation in the village of Nardaran, a suburb of Baku, on November 26, 2015. He led an operation as the head of the department for the fight against robbery and other crimes of the Department for the Fight against Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
On November 26, 2015, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan conducted a special operation in the village of Nardaran. During a gunfight six people were killed, including two policemen. As a result of that operation, more than a hundred people were arrested, many of them were convicted of murder and other crimes, and imprisoned for various terms.
Alimardanov’s name has also been involved in cases pertaining to the arrest of social and political activists, but he took part in only one trial — a criminal case against activist Elgiz Gahramanli. At the court session, Alimardanov denied the allegations of Gahramanli’s defense that the activist was tortured in the colonel’s personal office, and that a narcotic substance was planted in his pocket.
Elgiz Gahramanli was detained in 2016 on charges of drug trafficking, and imprisoned for five years and six months. The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan changed the article under which Gahramanli was convicted and reduced the sentence to three years. Elgiz Gahramanli was recognized as a political prisoner and in March 2019 he was pardoned by presidential decree. Officials in Azerbaijan claim that there are no political prisoners in the country.
In July 2015, by order of President Ilham Aliyev, Alimardanov was awarded the medal “For Heroism”.
Sanctions on Azerbaijani official