Former Politburo member Geidar Aliyev ran his own personality cult. He also indirectly contributed to the problems that resulted in the present Armenian-Azerbaijani disturbances, and was linked to high-level corruption during the rule of Leonid Brezhnev. These charges are contained in the latest edition of the weekly Literaturnaya Gazeta.
Recent attacks on misdeeds committed during Brezhnev's leadership (1964-1982) have been confined to leaders who are now dead or who have long been disgraced. The latest article extends the taint of corruption to a man who, until just a year ago, was a highly visible member of the Soviet leadership. And it comes at a time when indirect but recognizable barbs have begun to be directed at other Brezhnev-era holdovers such as Soviet President Andrei Gromyko, or KGB chief Viktor Chebrikov.
Mr. Aliyev left the Politburo, the Communist Party's highest body, only in October 1987. A career KGB officer, he was appointed party chief of the Republic of Azerbaijan from 1969-82, became a candidate (nonvoting) Politburo member in 1976 and a full member in 1982. In mid-1987 he dropped out of sight due to ill-health, later retiring.
Rumors circulated last spring of an official report on Aliyev's misdeeds. Soviet TV has carried acid references to the sumptuous residences built in Azerbaijan for party dignitaries. But this week's article is the first indication of a full-blooded move to disgrace Aliyev.
The article, by the paper's legal specialist Arkady Vaksberg, describes the adulation showered on Aliyev when he was Azerbaijan party chief. He quotes one member of the republic's parliament declaring, ``God himself in the person of Geydar Aliyevich [Aliyev] stands before us.'' Mr. Vaksberg implies that Aliyev, in turn, showered Brezhnev with gifts.
Vaksberg also describes the unsuccessful attempts by an honest prosecutor to prosecute Boris Kevorkov, party chief of Nagorno-Karabakh (a largely Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan), and senior officials in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait. Mr. Kevorkov was sacked only after unrest broke out in Karabakh in February. Sumgait was the site of a massacre in February, in which at least 32 Armenians died. Had the prosecutor been allowed to continue investigations, Vaksberg says, ``perhaps much of what happened this year would have been prevented.''
Vaksberg also cites a report that Aliyev had dodged military service during World War II, and fabricated a war record.
Much of Vaksberg's story is based on the investigations of Gambay Mamedov, a state prosecutor dismissed from his job, expelled from the party, and almost imprisoned for denouncing Aliyev's failure to act against corruption.