1. “The Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES) has consistently proven itself to be one of the most powerful ministries in Azerbaijan. It is suspected to have the largest revenue of any Ministry. It even has its own para-military unit, consistent with other such ministries in the CIS.”
2. “Heydarov mentioned to a visiting Washington VIP in 2008 that his ministry had recently taken control of an anti-aircraft battery near Baku in which he had served as a young conscript during Soviet times.”
Who among us hasn’t used their own quasi-governmental military force to take control of an anti-aircraft battery toward which we feel nostalgic?
3. “It is often said mockingly that in Azerbaijan’s judicial system, one can only win a case if one is friends with the judge — or if introduced by Benjamin Franklin (read: significant cash).”
I can only imagine that this joke is funnier in Azerbaijani.
4. “His Boys and Their Toys”
No joke, this was the header of a section in a U.S. government cable.
5. “Kamaladdin’s two sons, Nijat Heydarov and Tale Heydarov, have recently expressed a desire to purchase two Gulfstream jets, valued at $20 million each.”
Heydarov never taught his sons to share.
6. “The Heydarovs provided Gulfstream an overview of their family holdings, and it appears they own more businesses than any other Azerbaijani family, including companies in food canning, construction materials, concrete, asphalt, chemicals, bricks, textiles, CD and DVD production (since licensed CDs or DVDs are generally unavailable on the local market, these are certainly all pirated), milk processing, tourism, gypsum materials, leather, agriculture, pianos, alcohol and spirits, juices, banking, insurance, and construction.”
7. “In fact, MES staff have previously warned American and other foreign businessmen that their purview covers anything that is associated with temperature, pressure, or isotopes — categories broadly interpreted to include just about everything under the sun.”
Why won’t Mitt Romney release his isotopes?
8. “When USAID tried to support the production and distribution of pomegranate products in Azerbaijan, they quickly learned that no one sells pomegranate juice, concentrate, or derivatives from Azerbaijan without Heydarov’s permission.”
Irresponsible speculative bets on pomegranate derivatives would later bankrupt the J.P. Morgan Azerbaijan branch.
9. “The Heydarovs have largely cornered the fruit juice market in Azerbaijan, maintaining extremely high prices for locally produced juices and watered-down juice drinks, while making life difficult — with the help of State Customs — for cheaper competitors from Turkey, Ukraine and Russia.”
When drinking low-priced juice manufactured in the Ukraine would make your life better, many things have gone wrong.
10. “Heydarov has readily admitted to visiting U.S. delegations that he owns and operates the Caspian Fish Company which controls the lucrative (and previously Russian Mafia-controlled) Beluga Caviar production in Azerbaijan.”
There’s something fishy about the Azerbaijan caviar market!
11. “Kamaladdin Heydarov is a composer and has written a song about former President Heydar Aliyev that was sung by Azeri singer Aghadadash Aghayev. His wife is ethnic Korean, and he himself is quite the Koreaphile; he is President of the Azerbaijan Taekwondo Federation and owner of the recently opened high-end Korean restaurant ‘Shilla.’”
“Cause it’s a Shilla…Shill-a night,” Kamaladdin Heydarov says to people, humming the tune of “Thriller,” constantly.
12. Tale and/or Nijat also own the Qabala Football Club — perhaps as a small-scale effort to replicate the Chelsea antics of Russia’s Roman Abramovich. The Qabala squad is a virtual United Nations team, with players from across Europe, Latin America and Africa — the best team money can buy, at least for central Azerbaijan.
This is a remarkably vague evaluation of the quality of this team.
13. Embassy contacts note that Kamaladdin Heydarov is currently in a “fight over grain” with Minister of Agriculture Ismat Abbasov, and wants Abbasov replaced by Member of Parliament Eldar Ibrahimov.
Editor’s note: Shortly before submitting the last joke of this piece, Kevin Lincoln came under heavy fire from an anti-aircraft battery. His whereabouts are unknown.