Monday, April 9, 2018

Azerbaijan's strongman Ilham Aliyev

Leaked US diplomatic cables compare Ilham Aliyev to fictional mob boss Michael Corleone. Aliyev is expected to secure his fourth term as president in snap polls. The 56-year-old took over in 2003 after the death of his father Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and Communist-era boss.

It is now over 30 years of his family's firm grip over the oil-rich Caspian state. Critics say they have crushed the opposition and used their power to amass a fortune that funds a lavish lifestyle for the president and his family.
In 2010, The Washington Post reported property worth $75 million in Dubai is in the names of the president's young son Heydar and his daughters Arzu and Leyla.In 2009, Aliyev amended the country's constitution so he could run for an unlimited number of presidential terms. In 2016, Azerbaijan adopted controversial constitutional amendments extending the president's term in office to seven years from five. In 2017, he appointed his glamorous and free spending wife Mehriban Aliyeva as first vice president.
Bolstered by billions in oil money, Ilham has overseen years of carefully treading between Russia and the West, all while making a vast fortune.