RETIRED AZERI OFFICER SLAMS MINISTRY FOR CORRUPTION, POOR TREATMENT OF PRIVATES

Baki Xabar, Baku
24 Aug 04

Former brigade commander Ildirim Mammadov has accused several
high-ranking Azerbaijani Defence Ministry officers of inhumane policy,
adding that the ministry is rife with corruption. In an interview
with Azerbaijani daily Baki Xabar, Mammadov said that the Defence
Ministry was not supplying military units with necessary food, uniforms
and medicine shown in invoices. He also said that the Azerbaijani
armed forces were being governed by Soviet-era military laws and
any talk of transition to NATO standards was wide off the mark. The
following is an excerpt from report by Matanat Muslimqizi headlined "
Professionals are being discharged from army" and subheaded "Former
brigade commander Ildirim Mammadov: Some high-ranking officers in
the army have declared themselves secret enemies of the people'"
published in Azerbaijani newspaper Baki Xabar on 24 August; with
subheadings inserted editorially:

Reports by numerous international organizations have more
than once highlighted rampant corruption in Azerbaijan's state
bodies. Regrettably, bribery and corruption are rife in the Defence
Ministry, which is the bastion and the backbone of the nation's
protection. The treatment of soldiers and officers in the armed
forces, high-handedness, corruption and widespread bribery in military
units are inflicting a serious blow to our national security and
state independence. We have had a detailed conversation to this
effect with Lt-Col Ildirim Mammadov, a professional officer and
former brigade commander in the Azerbaijani army. (Passage omitted:
Mammadov's background.)

I asked my interviewee to assess the overall situation in the
Azerbaijani armed forces.

(Mammadov) Unable to put up with injustice in the army, I left the
military unit I was commanding. It was impossible to work there. Under
the existing system, when a military unit is audited three to four
times by various commissions and is requested to adjust something
without any financial support or help, it is impossible to work
normally in these conditions. Audits are conducted by the Defence
Ministry's high-ranking officers. When the ministry sends these audit
commissions, it knows the state of affairs in military units very
well. It is impossible to endure this. Those who can endure this become
a member of the system engaged in cheating and providing false reports.

(Correspondent) What did the audit commissions from the ministry
demand specifically from you?

(Mammadov) For example, just imagine, military units are provided
with neither food, nor military uniforms nor medicine stated in
invoices. This is rife in all spheres. For example, a military unit
should be supplied with 3,800 kg of soap. However, they only get
a fraction of this amount. Out of 13,000-14,000 sets of bed linen,
one-third is never supplied. Soldiers should be supplied with boots
every six months, but they are not. If earnest investigations are
launched, one can see that high-ranking officers commanding the army
have made hundreds of firms bankrupt. (Passage omitted: officers are
elevated to high ranks undeservedly.)

Defence Ministry leadership insensitive to soldiers' fate

(Correspondent) Why should the Defence Ministry put pressure on
officers to take care of privates? The issue at stake is human fate,
isn't it?

(Mammadov) The Defence Ministry's leadership is insensitive to fates
of sons of the people. If this were not the case, then the leadership
of the armed forces would have ordered commanders of brigades and
military units to cancel lessons between 1200-1700 o'clock when the
temperature rises above 30 degrees. Soldiers should rest at this
time and lessons should be conducted in the evenings.

Let us look into the matter. Why do the Azerbaijani people not love
the army? Because some high-ranking officials in the army have
declared themselves secret enemies of our people. Professional and
skilled personnel are discharged from the armed forces. However,
those who should not serve in the army are elevated. For example,
(Defence Ministry spokesman Col) Ramiz Duygun (Malikov) is a university
graduate and is 60 years old. However, he does not want to leave
his post to educate his grandchildren. (Passage omitted: on Soviet
experience in the army.)

Talk on transition to NATO standards wide off the mark

(Correspondent) It has been recently claimed that the Azerbaijani army
is being transformed to meet NATO standards. What is your attitude
towards this?

(Mammadov) Statements to this effect are purely formal. Actually,
nothing is being done. Why? Because, currently the Azerbaijani
armed forces are being ruled by Soviet laws. Being a NATO member,
first means that a soldier must be treated like a human and not like
a beast. In Azerbaijan, we see quite the contrary happen. It is very
early to speak about the NATO system in this country. Aspiring to NATO
membership also means big investment in the army. (Passage omitted:
the army needs new laws.)

(Correspondent) What is your assessment of the current state of
affairs in the Azerbaijani army?

(Mammadov) True, the Azerbaijani army with its many positive aspects
is better than the Georgian army, and the army of our enemy -
Armenia. However, I would like the Azerbaijani army be similar to
the Israeli army. Azerbaijan should have a small, mobile, strong and
professional army able to overcome all problems.