Armenia on Friday flatly denied any role in an alleged conspiracy to overthrow Azerbaijan’s government which claims to have foiled it with the arrest of a young Azerbaijani oppositionist announced the previous night.
The National Security Service (NSS) in Yerevan dismissed as “ridiculous” Azerbaijani allegations that it recruited Ruslan Bashirli, the arrested leader of the Yeni Fikir (New Thinking) youth movement, to foment a violent coup d’etat in Baku.
A statement issued by Azerbaijan’s Office of Prosecutor-General late Thursday said Bashirli secretly met Armenian security agents in Tbilisi last week and was paid $2,000 to stir up trouble ahead of the Azerbaijani parliamentary elections slated for November. Azerbaijani state television aired footage, allegedly shot in the Georgian capital, of Bashirli accepting cash from three men. The oppositionist was consequently charged with attempting "to take power by force."
“We knew that the new head of Azerbaijan’s special services is not a specialist,” the NSS said in a statement, tartly referring to Eldar Mahmudov’s police background. “But hardly anyone would predict that he will cast his subordinates in negative light.”
The NSS chief, Gorik Hakobian, compared the case with trumped-up espionage charges leveled by the late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin against his potential rivals. “My advice is this: You can’t solve Azerbaijan’s internal political problems with the long-forgotten methods that were used in the USSR during the 1920s and 1930s,” Hakobian was quoted as saying in the statement.
The Armenian security agency avoided any comment on the specifics of the Azerbaijani accusations, though.
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