Russia is rankling President Ilham Aliyev’s administration in Azerbaijan by backing a new lobbying group that is stacked with Diaspora power-brokers. Officials and analysts in Baku believe the Kremlin is trying to find a way to meddle in Azerbaijan’s internal affairs.
The new organization is called the Union of Azerbaijani Organizations of Russia (UAOR). Azerbaijani media outlets have dubbed it the “Billionaires’ Union” because of its membership of fantastically wealthy ethnic Azeris. Among the group’s leaders are prominent property developer/retailer Araz Agalarov, the father of President Ilham Aliyev’s son-in-law, pop singer Emin Agalarov; mogul Telman Ismayilov, owner of the jack-of-all-trades AST Group; Iskender Khalilov, owner of the transportation-hotels-trading-manufacturing company ISR Trans, and Vagit Alekperov, president of the private energy company LUKOIL.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku.