Azerbaijan Donated to Queen of England A ‘Karabagh’ Horse: An Obvious Bribe!

Azerbaijan Donated to Queen of England A ‘Karabagh’ Horse: An Obvious Bribe!

 By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

A delegation led by President of the Equestrian Federation of
Azerbaijan, Elchin Gulliyev, presented on May 16 ‘a rare Karabagh
horse’ named ‘Shohrat’ (glory) to the Queen of England as ‘a gift’
from President Ilham Aliyev.

Azerbaijan was invited to perform at Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee
celebrations. Among the participants in the May 12-15 Windsor Royal
Horse Show were Azerbaijan’s cavalry detachment and in national
costume the Border Guard Service’s dance ensemble who performed a
program called ‘Land of Fire.’ Azerbaijan has been participating in
this Show since 2012.

Queen Elizabeth II, 96, holding a walking cane due to her mobility
issues, waited in the courtyard of Windsor Castle to personally
receive Azerbaijan’s ‘gift.’ The Monarch, who has a lifelong love of
horses, said it was a “very kind, very generous” gesture. A similar
horse was recently sold at an auction for $17,000. The Queen was also
gifted two sculptures of horses, made by Azerbaijani sculptor Faiq
Hajiyev. Interestingly, Nikita Khrushchev, the First Secretary of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union, during his visit to the UK in
1956, had also presented to Queen Elizabeth II ‘a Karabagh horse’
named ‘Zaman.’

Making no secret of the propaganda value of the Azeri ‘gift’ to the
Queen, the press center of Azerbaijan’s State Border Service
explicitly stated, with an obvious distortion of the historical facts,
that the UK Horse Show “has become an extremely important platform for
promoting the ancient and unique Azerbaijani culture.”

However, the Azeri propaganda backfired when Phil Miller, chief
reporter of ‘Declassified UK’ wrote a highly critical article titled:
“Anger as Queen Bags ‘Generous’ Gift from Dictator.” The article
started with: “As the Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee, she is
facing calls to return a horse she recently received from a repressive
regime—the third autocracy from which she has accepted such a gift.”

Miller reported: “Republic, a group that wants to abolish the monarchy
and replace it with an elected head of state, slammed the Queen for
having a ‘cozy relationship where she receives horses from
dictatorships.’ Republic spokesman Graham Smith told Declassified: ‘It
doesn’t look good for a British head of state to be having these kinds
of relationships with people who have very questionable records in
office and who are repressing their own people. I think it is
distasteful and something that a different head of state might have
chosen not to do. I’m surprised the government hasn’t advised her to
refuse these sorts of gifts but I assume that it’s something she’s
very invested in—horse racing. I think the best thing she could do is
return the gifts and ask them not to offer her any more in the

Miller added: “The Aliyev family network is widely accused of
embezzling state funds and acquiring more than $500 million worth of
property in London, one of which was sold to the Queen’s crown estate
in an $82 million deal.”

Miller quoted dissident Azeri journalist in exile Arzu Geybullayeva:
“President Ilham Aliyev is not only notorious for his authoritarian
leadership, but he has also successfully managed to corrupt the whole
governing system — [putting] cronies, oligarchs, and family members
in high government positions.”

On June 2nd, the Armenian National Committees of Australia, Canada,
New Zealand and United Kingdom, all four British Commonwealth
countries, issued a joint statement titled: “Your Majesty, Beware of
Dictators Bearing Gifts!” The ANCs stated that Azerbaijan was
attempting to “gift their way to whitewashing an appalling human
rights record.” The ANCs called the gift “the latest in a series of
cynical attempts by the authoritarian regime of Azerbaijan to color
their shortcomings in a positive light.” The joint statement also
highlighted that “human rights organizations have consistently exposed
Azerbaijan’s use of Caviar Diplomacy in several corruption scandals,
where they were found to pay their way to enhancing the country’s
image amongst the international community.”

The four ANCs reminded that “in 2012, President Aliyev became the
inaugural winner of the Organized Crime and Corruption Person of the
Year award bestowed by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting
Project (OCCRP).” The ANCs alerted the Queen that “Freedom House has
summarized Azerbaijan’s human rights record as follows: ‘Power in
Azerbaijan’s authoritarian regime remains heavily concentrated in the
hands of Ilham Aliyev, who has served as president since 2003, and his
extended family. Corruption is rampant, and the formal political
opposition has been weakened by years of persecution. The authorities
have carried out an extensive crackdown on civil liberties in recent
years, leaving little room for independent expression or activism.’”

ANC-UK Chairperson Annette Moskofian stated: “There is no doubt in our
minds that the gift is a deliberate and targeted act by the
Azerbaijani regime to glorify its war crimes and cause psychological
harm to Armenians in the Commonwealth countries, as well as in their
ancestral homeland of Artsakh, who are facing an existential threat
and who have witnessed parts of their ancestral homeland be occupied
and ethnically cleansed by a foreign dictatorship.”

Sevag Belian, Armenian National Committee’s Executive Director in
Canada, added: “We are confident that, upon being fully apprised of
the above, Her Majesty should rightly reconsider acceptance of this
‘gift’ and reject Azerbaijan’s blatant and nefarious caviar

There is little chance that the Queen will return the Azeri horse,
unless the British public pressure their government that this ‘gift’
is nothing more than a crude bribe to whitewash the Aliyev regime’s
crimes against the people of Azerbaijan as well as Artsakh and