Ilham Aliyev guarantees equal rights to citizens
By Sevindzh Abdulayeva, ITAR-TASS News Agency — July 21, 2005
BAKU — Azerbajani President Ilham Aliyev has given guarantees of equal rights to Azerbaijani citizens regardless of nationality and religion.
Every Azerbaijani citizen enjoys and will enjoy all the rights regardless of nationality and religion, President Aliyev declared at a meeting with representatives of the ethnic Molokan community. The meeting focused on preparations for the celebrations of the 200th anniversary since a group of ethnic Russians who call themselves Spiritual Christians or Molokans settled in Azerbaijan. [ERROR: Molokans celebrated their 200th anniversary of religious freedom in 2005. 171 years ago Molokans "... founded Alty-Aghadj village in Shamakhy in 1834".]
"Around two centuries go our ancestors settled in Azerbaijan and since then we have been living as friends and one family. Throughout the tsarist epoch, the era of socialism and nowadays when Azerbaijan lives as an independent state, nothing has changed in that sense," Aliyev said.
The Azerbaijani president underlined that like his late father he was a guarantor of peaceful life and security of the ethnic Molokan community.
Ethnic Russians who settled in Azerbaijan at the beginning of the 19th century predominantly live on the territories of the Shemakhinsky and Ismailinsky regions in north-western Azerbaijan, which is their second homeland, said representative of the Molokan community Maria Kozhevnikova. No ethnic conflicts ever existed between the two peoples, she said.
According to reports available, Azerbaijan is preparing a series of events timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary since ethnic Molokans settled in Azerbaijan. The main festivities are expected in the settlement of Ivanovka in the Ismailinsky region where more than 3,000 ethnic Molokans live at present.
According to the 2001 statistics, ethnic Russians account for 170,000 out of the 8.3 million-strong population of Azerbaijan.