Azerbaijan International

Winter 2005 (13.4)


atakhan pashayev
In December 2005, the National Archives of Azerbaijan celebrated its 85th Jubilee. This invaluable treasury of historical documents was originally established by decree of Nariman Narimanov when the Bolsheviks took power in Azerbaijan. Here Archives Director Atakhan Pashayev describes the controversy that surrounds Narimanov, who, in 1925, became among the first of Stalin's assistants to die. Page 36. The Archives Jubilee coincided with the publication of our 50th issue so Editor Betty Blair presented an entire set of the magazines-nearly 5,000 pages of text in English - in deepest appreciation for all their support since 1993.

Gulhusein Huseinoghlu, 82, was released from the Gulag half a century ago. For years, he's been promising friends and family that he's going write his own memoirs. What a rare contribution to Azerbaijan's history it would be. Gulhusein's mind is extremely sharp and active, and the distance of years has given him as a professional writer a remarkable perspective on this dark period of Soviet history. When we started working on this issue, Gulhusein had stopped giving interviews to journalists. Fortunately, Fatma Alasgarova (below) convinced him to meet with us. Her late husband Azer had been exiled along with him. Page 52.

fatma alasgarova
Fatma Alasgarova had only been married four months when her husband Azer, 22, was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in exile. Like many other women in similar circumstances, she was pressured by her family to divorce and move on with her life. Confused and depressed, she eventually gave in to her family. Fortunately, Azer survived the Gulag. When Stalin died, Azer's term was shortened. In 1955, he returned to Baku after only seven years' imprisonment. Realizing that they still loved each other, Azer and Fatma remarried. Fatma confesses: "I'm so proud to have been Azer's wife. He was a man who stood up for what he believed, despite the tremendous cost". Page 58.

fuad mustafayev
Fuad Mustafayev was only 13 years old when Stalin crushed his older brother Chingiz, 19, and "wanna-be" activist friends. Fuad, now 75, has carried on his brother's legacy by raising three sons, who are all involved in media: Seyfulla and Vahid direct ANS Group-television, radio and print. Son Chingiz was killed filming the Karabakh war in 1992. The first Chingiz so desperately wanted to know what was going on in the world by listening to short-wave radio; the next generation of Mustafayevs have totally committed their lives to providing alternative news sources; breaking the latest news in Azerbaijan. Page 68.

Aydin Vahidov was only 23 when arrested as a member of a group that had disbanded four years earlier. Today, only he and Gulhusein remain from those original seven members. Aydin was lucky to use his training as an engineer in the Gulag. His interview here is marked by a quiet optimism, intent on finding goodness even in the midst of hell. Aydin graciously assented to this interview even though he could barely raise his voice above a whisper from his bed. He says: "Our people should know that there were people who fought for the independence of our Republic-for their independence. We always knew that Azerbaijan would be independent one day." Page 64.

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