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United Azeri Opposition Candidate Barred From Presidential Vote

Azerbaijan’s only presidential candidate from the unified opposition, Rustam Ibrahimbayov, was disqualified from the October election because he holds dual citizenship.

Ibrahimbayov, 74, didn’t relinquish his Russian citizenship in time to be eligible, Azar Sariyev, a spokesman for the Central Electoral Commission, said by e-mail today.

An Oscar-winning screenwriter, Ibrahimbayov accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of backing incumbent leader Ilham Aliyev after the Russian government failed to act promptly to revoke his citizenship. He sought to challenge Aliyev on behalf of the National Council of Democratic Forces, an alliance of Azerbaijan’s secular opposition parties and groups.

Putin paid a visit to Baku, the Caspian Sea nation’s capital, on Aug. 13, during which state-run OAO Rosneft, the world’s biggest publicly traded oil producer, agreed to create a joint venture to explore and produce natural gas with the State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan. They also agreed to cooperate in oil and refined-product sales and use of infrastructure such as pipelines and terminals.

Aliyev, who succeeded his father in disputed presidential elections 10 years ago, was nominated by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, or YAP, last month to compete for a third term in office. The Azeri leader’s family has run the oil-rich Caspian Sea state for more than four decades.

The united opposition last week nominated historian Camil Hasanli as a back-up candidate to avoid the prospect of being barred from the race. The election is slated for Oct. 9.

Ibrahimbayov, also known as Ibragimbekov in the Russian transliteration of his name, and Nikita Mikhalkov wrote the 1994 film “Burnt by the Sun,” which won an Oscar for best foreign language movie.

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