Leonid Slutsky: “I hope PACE’s stance on the Milli Majlis elections will be more constructive and objective”
Four days remain before the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, which will be held next Sunday. This election campaign has become the most active in the history of the country - more than 1300 candidates apply for 125 deputy mandates. The CEC has already accredited 850 international observers from 56 international organizations and 55 countries. Vestnik Kavkaza talked with the head of the Duma Committee on International Affairs, a member of the Russian delegation to PACE, Leonid Slutsky, who has repeatedly been an observer in the presidential and parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.
- International observers are already gathering in Azerbaijan. What kind of reaction to the elections can be expected from PACE, given that its attitude is usually critical?
- I do not want to extrapolate, but, indeed, in the past, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was not entirely objective towards the elections to the Milli Majlis and the presidential elections in Azerbaijan. However, now the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE, headed by Samad Seyidov, has achieved a qualitative change in the attitude of the Assembly to the position of official Baku on different issues.
Today, in PACE there is no longer such tough anti-Azerbaijani tension as it was several years ago. And this is a great merit of a small but professional Azerbaijani delegation.
I can’t foresee, but I hope that the position of the PACE delegation on the elections to the Milli Majlis on February 9 will be much more constructive and objective.
- However, PACE continues to hammer the point of political prisoners allegedly persecuted in the country…
- The latest report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan cannot be compared with the documents that PACE issued several years ago. A significant portion of the steam has already been let off.
Nevertheless, we [the Russian delegation] criticized the biased position of the PACE report on political prisoners, who actually are not persecuted in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is a country very close to us. And we welcome the tremendous successes, first of all, of President Ilham Aliyev, who confidently leads the country to prosperity, to ensure that the state has authority in the global political, informational, humanitarian space. He continues the work of his great father, Heydar Aliyev, the founder of today's Azerbaijani state.
- What is your forecast regarding the parliamentary elections?
- I am sure that the elections in Azerbaijan will comply with the European and international standards, and will be more objectively evaluated by international observers.
At least, numerous observers from Russia will make every effort to achieve this. We are going there as part of several organizations - the Federal Assembly, the SCO, and the OSCE PA.
I am convinced that we will be able to achieve an objective assessment. The elections, there is not the slightest doubt, will be held at a very high level and without any significant violations.