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Azerbaijani Army Officers Make Video Complaining Of Extortion

July 14, 2011

BAKU -- Three Azerbaijani army officers have posted a video online addressed to President Ilham Aliyev complaining about the financial demands put on them by their commanding officer, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Captain Ramin Qasimov, Lieutenant Asgar Asgarov, and warrant officer Shahlar Rzayev say they were forced to use their own money to buy construction materials for repairs to their barracks in the south-central district of Beylagan that were damaged by strong winds.

"The wind destroyed the roof of the barracks and also the bathroom we built some 20-25 days ago," Qasimov says in the video. "The commander told us we should repair them ourselves. We were obliged to do so. We pawned our salary cards to buy construction materials."

The officers are demanding that the Defense Ministry repay the money they spent on construction materials and that they receive new salary cards.

Defense Ministry official Eldar Sabiroglu told RFE/RL on July 14 that the video appeal is being investigated and a statement will be released when the probe is completed.

Local media reported that the officers' families are being subjected to pressure. Sabiroglu told RFE/RL those reports are untrue.

There have been repeated reports of corruption within the Azerbaijani military over the past few years.

Azerbaijan currently has a defense budget of some $3 billion.


Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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