Kavkazskiy Uzel , Russia
Jan 4 2008

Azeri political expert downbeat about ties with Russia

An independent Azerbaijani political analyst has said that
Azerbaijani-Russian ties cannot be described normal.

Commenting on the suspension of Russian RTR Planeta TV broadcasts in
Azerbaijan in an interview with Russian Kavkazskiy Uzel website
published on 4 January, Arif Yunus said that the ties "can be
described as cooperation based on suspicion and distrust".

The analyst added that "on the one hand, our authorities state that
strategic ties were established between Russia and Azerbaijan, on the
other hand, they are not supported by specific activities".

Yunus ruled out aggravation of ties as "Russia does not need to spoil
ties with Azerbaijan" in view of restrained relations with Ukraine,
Georgia and Estonia.

The political analyst predicted a sharp decrease in the number of
Russian-language schools and exodus of Russian population from the
country in the future.

"But this will not turn into a problem which is now observed between
the Baltic states and Russia. All will be probably resolved through
declarative statements about friendship and cooperation, but
actually, Moscow will strengthen its influence and support for
Armenia to punish Azerbaijan," Yunus added.

The broadcasts of the Russian TV channel RTR Planeta were halted in
Azerbaijan early in the morning on 1 January 2008 under a decision by
the National TV and Radio Council. The Russian channel was reportedly
taken off the air as there was no agreement on its transmission in
Azerbaijan in 2008.

The transmission of the ORT channel was halted on 10 July 2007 and
RTR Planeta was the only Russian channel that officially broadcast in