Former head of Azerbaijan´s Presidential Administration, Ramiz Mehdiyev, has called for high-ranking officials to be punished for attending weddings during the quarantine regime in the country after he and some other top officials were involved in a coronavirus-related wedding scandal.
Mehdiyev´s statement came days after his granddaughter Fidan Aliyeva held a wedding party in a country house in Novkhani on 18 August where a limited number of top officials were also invited as guests.
After a video of the wedding went viral on social media last week, Mehdiyev´s son-in-law Ilham Aliyev and his new relative Rovshan Mustafayev, were arrested and given a 15 day administrative sentence for breaking the quarantine rules.
Mehdiyev said in a statement released on Monday that under quarantine restrictions high-ranking Azerbaijani officials and other public figures also held wedding and birthday parties for themselves or relatives.
“But it is very strange that the media's attention is focused on my family,” Mehdiyev was quoted as saying by the Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences. Mehdiyev was appointed chair of the academy after he was dismissed by President Ilham Aliyev from his presidential administration late October in 2019.
The removal of the 81 year old Mehdiyev, who had held his former post as head of the presidential administration since he was appointed in 1995 by President Ilham Aliyev’s father and predecessor, Heydar Aliyev, became one of the most important changes in a recent reshuffling of Aliyev´s cabinet.
Aliyev said last year that he wanted to clear out members of his government who had reached retirement age, a move seen partly as an attempt to remove officials appointed during his father’s tenure.
“No one, who held a wedding or engagement party during the pandemic, or committed an administrative offence, was handcuffed and demonstratively brought to a judge. The reason for this double standard is really mysterious,” Mehdiyev said.
“I want to believe that the law enforcement agencies, media platforms, parliamentarians and public figures of our country will treat similar events with the same sensitivity and principle, arrest all the offenders and give them valuable advice on the rule of law,” he added.
Other guests, including lawmaker Siyavush Novruzov and Sabina Aliyeva, who is also known as the country´s ombudsman, were among those fined for attending the wedding, the İnterior Ministry said in a statement.
As stated on Novruzov´s Facebook page, Mehdiyev invited the guests after receiving permission from the president. He later accused Mehdiyev of lying and making him fall in a desperate situation.
Novruzov resigned on Monday from his post as Deputy Executive Secretary of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party.
Azerbaijan put in place a quarantine regime to stop the spread of the coronavirus and banned mass events, including weddings and large funeral ceremonies in the country.