Heydar Aliyev

Aliyev, Heydar (khāˈdär älēˈyĕf) [key], 1923–2003, Azerbaijani political leader, president of Azerbaijan (1993–2003), b. Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, grad. Azerbaijan State Univ. (1957). Aliyev joined the USSR's security forces in 1941, eventually becoming deputy chairman (1964–67) and chairman (1967–69) of the KGB in the Azerbaidhzan SSR. He was made head of the Azerbaidzhan Communist party in 1969 and a member of the central committee of the Soviet Communist party in 1971. In 1982 he became a member of the Soviet Politburo and was named first deputy prime minister. Under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Aliyev was charged with dishonesty and ousted (1987) from the Politburo; he also was removed as party leader in Azerbaidzhan. Aliyev won election to the Azerbaidzhan SSR's supreme soviet in 1990, resigned from the Communist party in 1991, and after the abortive coup against Gorbachev, advocated independence for what became Azerbaijan. A government crisis in 1993 enabled Aliyev to proclaim himself acting head of state; he won presidential elections later that year and again in 1998. An authoritarian ruler, he survived coup and assassination attempts and brought some stability to post-Soviet Azerbaijan. Ailing, he did not run in 2003, but engineered the election of Ilham Aliyev, his son, as president.

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