Azerbaijan on Tuesday blocked the country’s main opposition candidate from challenging strongman president Ilham Aliyev in October elections. The oil-rich ex-Soviet state’s election commission said Oscar-winning screenwriter Rustam Ibragimbekov had been barred from standing in the autumn polls because of his dual Russian-Azerbaijan citizenship. “The Central Electoral Commission reviewed all the documents presented by Ibragimbekov and considers that there is no legal basis for registering his candidacy for the presidential polls,” said Arifa Mukhtarova, the commission’s secretary. “The basis for this decision is his Russian citizenship and his obligations to that country.”
Ibragimbekov, who co-authored the Oscar-winning 1994 film “Burnt by the Sun” with Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov, had been put forward as a united candidate by a coalition of Azerbaijan’s main opposition parties.
He has initiated the process of renouncing his Russian citizenship.
In the meantime, the opposition National Council of Democratic Forces coalition on Friday picked Jamil Hasanli– a former lawmaker and historian– as a back-up candidate should Ibragimbekov be refused permission to run.