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Heydargate Emails Revealed

Incident begs the question: What won't Santa Fe city officials sign off on?

June 24, 2010, 12:00 am
By Corey Pein
This week's SFR has the strange tale of how Santa Fe Mayor David Coss wound up praising a dead Soviet general who took control of Azerbaijan after a military coup.

Readers may remember that this is not the first time Coss' office has issued a questionable proclamation without doing its homework. 


This latest incident shows how easy it is to get an elected official to sign pretty much anything--even a proclamation of support for an infamously corrupt government accused by the US State Department of arbitrary detention, torture and media suppression.

In the following email chain, City Councilor Chris Calvert, Mayor David Coss and his assistant demonstrate that they have no problem repeating a lobbyist's language verbatim in an official proclamation. (Click the images to enlarge.)



"Proclamations need to be composed by sender," Coss' assistant, Marge Sandoval, writes.


"Does the attached work?" the Azerbaijani government lobbyist asks.

As Elmar Chakhtakhtinski of Azerbaijani-Americans for Democracy writes in an email to SFR, the lobbyists' proposed proclamation contains historical innacuracies

Note that in its request the Tool Shed group provides the mayor’s office with false information about Heydar Aliyev, indicating that:

- he “was the first president of the post-Soviet modern Azerbaijan” (when in reality he was only the third president of modern independent Azerbaijan)

- and that he “extricated Azerbaijan from the Soviet Union” (while in reality Azerbaijan was independent for two years since 1991, officially recognized by the UN and major world powers, and completely free of Russian/ Soviet troops before Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB general and one of the top Soviet officials, came to power in a military coup in 1993).

All of which is checkable with a little bit of Googling.

In fairness to Coss and Calvert, Chakhtakhtinski is also a public relations person of sorts. Nevertheless, in a follow-up email to SFR, he takes issue with my characterization of AZAD as an opposition group and himself as an opposition leader, although his public writings and activities do place him in a state of perpetual opposition to the current government of Azerbaijan:

...In reality AZAD does not represent any Azerbaijani opposition group or party and is not an Azerbaijani political organization.
 
Rather, AZAD is an American non-partisan organization, representing the views of Azerbaijani-Americans and other individuals and groups within the United States who are concerned with the state of democracy and human rights in Azerbaijan. While AZAD is registered in Virginia, our directors are based in different states and we work with American public to advocate support for democracy in Azerbaijan and to promote the US-Azerbaijani relations based on these principles. This is our mission as reflected in our official registration documents and by-laws.
 
Naturally, when Azerbaijani government’s policies and actions go against these democratic principles, we voice our objections and inform the public about the relevant facts.

Meanwhile, a commenter at SFR's original story has this to offer:

Sick of Heydar Aliyev. You arrive at Heydar Aliyev airport, drive Heydar Aliyev avenue, pass by Heydar Aliyev palace and Heydar Aliyev exhibition center, Heydar Aliyev foundation and numerous parks named after  Heydar Aliyev. His son runs the country, his picture is on the right corner of TV screen in all holiday days. FED UP! He did nothing good for this country. He established the system of corruption.

Oh--so he's sort of like Ronald Reagan?

 

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