Ilham Aliyev

Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev is the President of Azerbaijan, having been elected in 2003.

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Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev (Azerbaijani: İlham Heydər oğlu Əliyev, born 24 December 1961, Baku) is the President of Azerbaijan, having been elected in 2003. He also functions as the Chairman of the New Azerbaijan Party and the head of the National Olympic Committee. Apart from his native Azerbaijani, he speaks Turkish, English, French and Russian. Ilham Aliyev is the son of Heydar Aliyev, who was Azerbaijan's president from 1993-2003.

Early life

In 1977 Aliyev entered the Moscow State University of International Relations (MSUIR) and in 1982 continued his education as a postgraduate.[1] In 1985 he received a PhD degree in history.[1] From 1985-1990 Aliyev lectured at MSUIR.[1]

Political career

Early years

In May 1994, Ilham Aliyev was appointed vice-president of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). He participated as one of the key figures during the negotiations between Azerbaijani government and Western oil companies during the conclusion of new contracts now known as Contract of the century. The following year Aliyev was elected to the National Assembly of Azerbaijan and later 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 prime minister. In October, Heydar Aliyev, suffering failing health, stepped down as president. However, he maintains a large cult of personality and appointed his own son, an independent candidate, as his party's sole presidential candidate.

2003 election

The official results of the October 15, 2003, elections gave victory to Ilham Aliyev, who earned 76.84% of the votes. However, the domestic opposition refused to accept the results and staged mass protests. The protests were due to alleged corruption and staging of elections.

The elections received harsh criticism from the international community, with many observers noting that they fell short of international standards and were accompanied by voter intimidation, unequal campaign opportunities for the candidates, and widespread violations of the electoral laws and process. The OSCE International Election Observation Mission noted a number of irregularities in the counting and tabulation.[2] Human Rights Watch complained that Aliyev's election campaign had been supported by government resources and that the Central Election Commission and local election commissions had been stacked with its supporters, while local non-governmental organizations had been banned from monitoring the vote.[3]


Participants of the second Caspian Summit. From left to right: Ilham Aliev, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, October 2007

Opposition members and human rights activists complain that during Aliyev's presidency the human rights situation has not improved. Opposition mass meetings remained banned or were allowed to be held in remote parts of Baku, thus aiming at demoralizing and making it difficult for supporters of opposition to reach there, and the government has continued to pressure the opposition and independent press. In March 2005 under continued pressure from the international community, especially the Council of Europe, Aliyev released from prison many prominent members of the opposition, arrested during protests against the way the October 2003 election was conducted.

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.[4] 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.[5]

Aliyev with the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, 3 July 2008

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.[6]

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."[7]

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.

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 a flawed democracy, at 63rd place out of 167, in its 2010 Democracy Index.

Repeated protests were staged against Aliyev's rule in 2011, calling for more democracy and the ouster of the government. Aliyev has responded by ordering a security crackdown, using force to crush attempts at revolt in Baku. Officials loyal to the president have dismissed protesters' comparison of Azerbaijan to other countries considered to be part of the same revolutionary wave that has rocked North Africa and Western Asia since December 2010, and Aliyev has rejected the precedent set by leaders in Armenia, Oman, Jordan, and other affected states by refusing to make concessions. Well over 400 Azerbaijanis have been arrested since protests began in March 2011.[8] Opposition leaders, including Musavat's Isa Gambar, have vowed to continue demonstrating, although police have encountered little difficulty in stopping protests almost as soon as they begin.[9]

In 2012, Aliyev convinced the government of Hungary to transfer convicted murderer Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan to finish the rest of his prison term. Safarov had killed Armenian, Gurgen Margarjan, with an axe, in his sleep while they both attended a NATO sponsored English-language course in Hungary. After being extradited, Safarov was treated to a hero's welcome, given a home and received back pay for the 8 years he spent in jail. Aliyev also promoted Safarov in rank and hailed him a national hero amidst widespread disappointment and outrage from the international community. Aliyev's actions have been seen as deeply provocative by neighboring Armenia during a period of ceasefire enacted since in 1994. [10][11]

Personal life

Ilham Aliyev married Mehriban Aliyeva in Baku on 22 December 1983. They have three children: Leyla, Arzu and Heydar. He also has an older sister, Sevil Aliyeva.


It was reported that three Aliyev children own real estate in Dubai worth about $75 million. In just two weeks of early 2009, an 11-year-old son of Aliyev became the owner of nine waterfront mansions in Dubai. The total price is estimated about $44 million, which is equal to roughly 10,000 years' worth of salary for the average Azerbaijani citizen.[12]

Azerfon, a Baku-based telecom company, founded in March 2007 has nearly 1.7 million subscribers and covers 80 percent of the country's territory and is country's only provider of 3G services. Aliyev's two daughters, Leyla and Arzu Aliyevas, are believed to control this company.[13] It has also been reported that they control the Azerbaijani bank sphere.[14]

Public image

  • Aliyev's photo is shown in the final frames of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) implying misleadingly that he is the president of Borat's fictionalised Kazakhstan.[15]
  • On February 22, 2012 American broadcaster CNBC aired the film "Filthy Rich", which explored the President Ilham Aliyev’s family's real estate holdings abroad.[16][17]


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

Ilham Aliyev's major honors include:

  • Heydar Aliyev Order[18]
  • Order of Sheikhulislam (Azerbaijan)[18]
Former Soviet states
  • Order of Honor (2003)[19]
  • Order of Yaroslav the Wise 1st degree (2008, awarded by Viktor Yushchenko)[20]
  • Order of Glory and Honor 1st degree (Орден Славы и Чести; 2010, conferred by Kirill I of Moscow)[21]
  • Order of St. Sergius I degree (Орден Преподобного Сергия Радонежского I степени (РПЦ))[18]
  • Order of Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, I degree (Орден святого благоверного князя Даниила Московского I степени)[22]
  • Юбилейная медаль «10 лет Астане»
Other countries
  • Order of the Star of Romania (2004, awarded by Ion Iliescu)[18]
  • Grand Croix of the Légion d'honneur (2007, awarded by French Ambassador in Baku Bernard Chaffin)[23]
  • Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2008, awarded by Lech Kaczyński)[24]
  • Gold Medal of the Greek Parliament (2009)[25]
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Three Stars (Latvia)[26]
  • Order of Abdulaziz al Saud (2005, awarded by Fahd of Saudi Arabia)[18]
  • Order of Mubarak Al-Kabeer (2009, Kuwait)[27]
  • Medal For Distinction in Protection of CIS State Borders and Badge for Strengthening of Border Cooperation (2008)[28]
  • Order of Glory «Great Cordon» (International Military Sport Council)[18]
  • Order of Glory of the International Confederation of Sport Organizations of CIS countries[18]
  • Supreme Order of the Hall of Fame FILA "Legend of Sport";[18]
  • İhsan Doğramacı Prize of International Relations for Peace (Turkey)[18]
  • Лауреат «Гран-при» премии "Персона года 2009" (Russia)[29]
  • Лауреат премии "Друг журналистов"[30]
  • “Man of the Year” by «Balcanii şi Europa» magazine (Romania)[31][32]
  • Honorary Professor of the Turkmenistan State University named after Makhtumkuli (Turkmenistan).[33]
  • Honorary Professor of the Belarusian State University[34]
  • Honorary Professor of Moscow State University (2008)[35]
  • Honorary Professor of L.N.Gumilev Eurasian National University (Kazakhstan)[18]
  • Honorary Professor of University of National and World Economy (Bulgaria)[18]
  • Honorary Doctor of Lincoln University (USA)[18]
  • Honorary Doctor of the Moscow State University of International Relations[18]
  • Honorary Doctor of Bilkent University (Turkey)[18]
  • Honorary Doctor of National Academy for Taxes (Ukraine)[18]
  • Honorary Doctor of Petroleum and Gas University of Ploesti (Romania)[18]
  • Honorary Doctor of Kyung Hee University (South Korea)[18]
  • Honorary Doctor of Jordan University (Jordan)[18]
  • Honorary Doctor of Social Sciences of the Corvinus University (Hungary)[33]
  • Honorary Doctor of the Kiev National University named after Taras Shevchenko (Ukraine)[33]

On 21 November 2009, Aliyev was also included in a 500 Most Influential Muslims of World book.[36][37]


  1. "President of Azerbaijan-Biography". Retrieved 2010-12-12.
  2. "OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission Report".
  3. "Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper".
  4. "Azerbaijan: WikiLeaks Cable Compares Ilham Aliyev to Movie Mafia Bosses". 2010-12-02. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  5. "Talysh: WS on the Case of the Talysh People". UNPO. 2006-03-12. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  6. "ISN Security Watch - Mr Aliyev goes to Washington".
  7. "Azerbaijani president: Armenians are guests in Yerevan". REGNUM News Agency J. January 17, 2008.
  8. McGuinness, Damien (24 April 2011). "Azerbaijan cracks down hard on protests". BBC News. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  9. Schwirtz, Michael (4 April 2011). "Opposition in Azerbaijan Vows to Step Up Protests". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  10. "Ax Killer Pardon Reignites Caucasus War Fears in Oil-rich Region". Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  11. "Azerbaijan Pardons and Frees Convicted Killer". Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  12. Higgins, Andrew (March 5, 2010). "Pricey real estate deals in Dubai raise questions about Azerbaijan's president". Washington Post. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  13. Ismayilova, Khadija (June 27, 2011). "Azerbaijani President's Daughters Tied To Fast-Rising Telecoms Firm". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  14. Asadzade, Ulviyye; Ismayilova, Khadija (August 13, 2010). "Aliyev's Azerbaijani Empire Grows, As Daughter Joins The Game". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  15. "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan".
  16. "Azerbaijan: In Solidarity with Khadija Ismayilova". Human Rights House Foundation. March 16, 2012. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  17. Cohn, Scott. "The Filthy Rich". CNBC. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  18. Алиев Ильхам Президент Республики Азербайджан. broken link
  19. "ЗА ЗАСЛУГИ — ОРДЕН ЧЕСТИ". Вышка. 30 мая 2003 года.
  20. Виктор Ющенко наградил Ильхама Алиева орденом князя Ярослава Мудрого І степени
  21. (Russian)"Президент Азербайджана награжден орденом Русской Православной церкви "Славы и Чести I степени"". Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  22. "Завершился исторический визит Патриарха всея Руси Алексия в Азербайджан". Православие.Ру. 29.05.01.
  23. (French)"Le président azerbaïdjanais reçoit les insignes de Grand-Croix de la Légion d'honneur". RIA Novosti. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  24. (Russian)"Ильхам Алиев награжден Большим крестом польского ордена "За заслуги"". Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  25. "President of Azerbaijan honored with Gold Medal of Greek Parliament". APA. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  26. Президенту Азербайджана Ильхаму Алиеву исполнилось 48 лет
  28. (Russian)"Ильхам Алиев награжден высшими наградами Совета командующих пограничными войсками СНГ". Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  29. "Президенту Азербайджана Ильхаму Алиеву присуждена высшая награда – Гран-при ежегодной премии "Персона года 2009"". Информационное агентство TREND. 2010-02-26.
  30. "Президенту Азербайджана Ильхаму Алиеву вручена награда "Друг журналистов" (ФОТО)". Информационное агентство TREND. 2010-12-29.
  32. "Azerbaijani President is designated "Man of the Year" by "Balcanii si Europa" magazine". Financiarul. 26 Noiembrie 2010.
  33. "ПРЕЗИДЕНТ АЗЕРБАЙДЖАНА". Посольство Азербайджанской Республики в Республике Беларусь.
  34. "Ильхаму Алиеву присвоено звание почетного профессора Белорусского госуниверситета". The First News. 12 ноября 2009.
  35. "Студенты ФГП приняли участие во встрече с Президентом Азербайджана И.Г. Алиевым". Факультет глобальных процессов МГУ имени М.В. Ломоносова. 2008-02-22.
  36. "Azerbaijani president included in 500 most influential Muslims of world book".
  37. "Президент Азербайджана вошел в книгу 500 самых влиятельных мусульман мира" (in Russian).