Former President of North Azerbaijan
Ebulfezl Elcibey Azadliq elchisidir.
Elchibey, Azerbaijan's first democratically elected President, died on August 22,
2000. He was being treated in the Gulhane Turkish Military Hospital in Ankara
for advanced prostrate cancer and diabetes. He was 62.
Elected as President in June 1992, six months after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Elchibey remained in power for only one year of his five-year term. His presidency was marked by discontent with
the economic upheaval brought on by the collapse of the USSR and the enormous military losses in Nagorno-Karabakh, a war fought against Russian-backed Armenian troops, which cost Azerbaijan nearly 20 percent of its territory and left approximately 1 million Azerbaijanis as refugees.
Elchibey was born on June 14, 1938 in the village of Kalaki in the Ordubad province of Nakhchivan. He graduated from the Oriental Studies Department at Baku State University, where he majored in Arabic; he was later assigned to Egypt as an interpreter.
To Elchibey's credit, he dared to envision the establishment of an independent, self-governed Azerbaijan long before most people ever dreamed that the disintegration of the USSR was possible. During his tenure as a university professor at Baku State University in 1975, he was imprisoned for 18 months for his dissident political beliefs. Afterwards, he was not allowed to teach and took up research at the Institute of Manuscripts, a post he held until the Karabakh war broke out and he became Chairman of the Popular Front Party, a position he held from 1989-2000.
During his short leadership, he initiated the following:
(1) The tendency to develop relations with the West and explore the concept of pluralist democracy as a model for government.
(2) Ridding Azerbaijan of all Russian troops (a feat that has not been carried out by any other Caucasus state or any other former Soviet Republic, except in the Balkans).
(3) Establishment of Azerbaijan's currency - the manat - to replace the Russian ruble.
(4) Standardization of university entrance exams.
(5) Re-adoption of the Latin alphabet to replace Cyrillic, which had been imposed in 1939.
A State Funeral was organized by Azerbaijan government led by Speaker of Parliament, Murtuz Alaskgarov. The Funeral Ceremony was held at the Academy of Sciences and attended by President Heydar Aliyev. Elchibey is buried in Baku's "Fakhri Khiyaban" - Avenue of the Honored Ones- along with Azerbaijan's most beloved and respected musicians, writers, academicians and statesmen.