Lilit Gevorgyan

World Markets Research Centre
Global Insight
May 28, 2010

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued a statement declaring five
members of Russia's lower house of parliament aspersonae non gratae,
which means that they will not be welcome to come to Azerbaijan in a
diplomatic capacity. The harsh move comes after the Russian legislators
took part in the parliamentary election in Azerbaijan's breakaway
republic of Nagorno-Karabakh on 23 May as international monitors
(seeArmenia - Azerbaijan: 25 May 2010:). Ministry spokesperson Elkhan
Pulukhov has added that the decision could be reversed if the Russian
lawmakers admit that their participation in the polls was deliberate
malice. The affected people are Igor Chernyshenko, Kirill Cherkasov,
Tatyana Volozhinskaya, Maxim Mishchenko, and Konstantin Zatulin. The
latter expressed his surprise with the Azerbaijani government's
decision as he has repeatedly monitored both parliamentary and
presidential elections in Nagorno-Karabakh since its decision to
break away from Azerbaijan back in February 1988. However, this is
the first time that such dramatic measures have been employed against
the Russian monitors.

Significance:The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry's tough decision is an
unusual gesture addressed towards Russia, which together with France
and the United States is one of the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group
of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
that oversees the peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the
status of the Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. It comes
as Azerbaijan has been toughening its stance at the peace talks and
towards the mediators in recent months. Only last month Azerbaijani
authorities criticised the United States for being biased towards
Armenia. By slamming two out of the three mediators, Azerbaijan is
showing its growing frustration with the Minsk Group and also signals
that it has no intention of finding a more collaborative approach
to the conflict resolution other than full submission of the region
to Azerbaijan's control, a stance that Azeri president Ilham Aliyev
holds now. The Foreign Ministry's decision is not likely to induce
any positive change in already difficult peace talks.

From: A. Papazian