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Azerbaijan arrests several top military officials

15 February 2022
Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry. Official photo.

Azerbaijani authorities have arrested Rafael Khalilov, the head of the finance department of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, as well as three other high-ranking members from the ministry.

Khalilov and the three other men were arrested on 13 February after a search operation carried out at Defence Ministry offices by the State Security Service. They have been placed into four months of pre-trial detention.

One of the men detained alongside Khalilov is Bayram Bayramov, the head of the Land Forces Finance Department.

The detained officers are accused of embezzling over 10 million ($5.9 million) and face 10 to 14 years in prison if convicted. 

Azerbaijani military analyst Jasur Mammadov told OC Media that the arrests are connected with a ‘reconstruction’ of the Azerbaijani military on the basis of the ‘model’ of the Turkish armed forces. 

‘These arrests show that the political authorities in Azerbaijan are paving the way for Turkey's military-political line’, Mammadov said. 

At the same time, he added, such a ‘purge’ in service of military reform will have limits with regard to eliminating corruption in the armed forces, as much of the corruption ‘belongs to the current political leadership’ who will remain untouched and will only ‘clean up the army to the limit of its interests’. 

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‘These processes are just to set an example and intimidate other institutions and the military’, he said.