Azerbaijan: Could Putin Use Azerbaijani Opposition Leader as Bargaining Chip for Energy Deal?
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin came to Baku on August 13 to negotiate energy matters with oil and gas-rich Azerbaijan, which competes with Moscow as an energy supplier to Europe. Among the selling points that Putin brings to the negotiations table is his unique ability to influence Azerbaijan's upcoming presidential campaign.
Internationally acclaimed screenwriter Rustam Ibraghimbekov, the proposed candidate of the National Council, a coalition of Azerbaijan's main opposition members, remains a Putin-signature away from being allowed to run against longtime President Ilham Aliyev in the October 9 vote. To be eligible to run, though, Ibraghimbekov, a dual Azerbaijani-Russian citizen, first needs Putin to sign off on his request to renounce his Russian citizenship.
And the clock already has started ticking. Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission will be accepting registration documents from proposed presidential candidates from August 20 through September 9.
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