Several Defense Ministry officials arrested in an operation carried out by the State Security Service

So far, no official information has been released by the authorities.

Law enforcement vehicle in Baku. Source: meunierd / Shutterstock

The State Security Service (SSS) is reported to be conducting an operation – which already arrested a number of officials – targeting the Defense Ministry . The criminal case concerns the irregular spending of millions originated from budget funds.

Among those detained during the operation were the head of the Finance Department of the Defense Ministry, Colonel Rafael Khalilov, the head of the Land Forces Finance Department Bayram Bayramov, the head of the Finance Department of a military unit Farahim Sarkarov and the ministry officer Vusal Alizade.

The suspects were charged for embezzlement, abuse of power and additional articles of the Criminal Code. They were sentenced to four months in prison during the preliminary investigation.

The State Security Service did not release official information about the operation.

Jasur Sumerinli, head of the Khazar Institute for Military Studies, shared his suspicions about the arrests with Meydan TV.

The military expert said there were two main reasons for the financial arrests: firstly, the result of an investigation of Turkish military instructors, and secondly, as implementing anti-corruption efforts, condition given by the relevant structures of NATO to support changes in the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.

“It is likely that after these anti-corruption measures, the financial system of the Defense Ministry will be restructured. Representatives of the Turkish Armed Forces consider this an important element of military reform. At the same time, the alliance will provide practical support to Azerbaijan within the framework of NATO’s Building Integrity program. For all this to happen, official Baku must prove its determination in anti-corruption measures in the military field”.

Jasur Sumerinli

According to Sumerinli, in the South Caucasus, Georgia and Armenia, as participants in the Building Integrity program, benefit from the support of relevant NATO structures for anti-corruption measures in the Armed Forces.

He adds that NATO has been offering Azerbaijan to participate in this program since 2010, however, Baku did not accept the invitation so far. Sumerinli believes the situation of corruption in the Azerbaijani Defense and Security Sector can be assessed as critical, citing the 2021 Corruption Perception Index from Transparency International, in which Azerbaijan ranked one of the last places.

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