Left: President Aliyev at the 1999 dedication of Yusif Heydar Mammadaliyev's statue. Right: Baku has a new statue of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, donated by LUKoil.
Wherever you go in Azerbaijan, you're likely to come across the statues of famous poets, musicians, writers and scholars. Azerbaijanis hold tremendous respect for geniuses, even long after their passing. One such dearly beloved figure is the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), known for classics such as his novel "Eugene Onegin." Baku has a street and square named after Pushkin, and his statue can even be found in remote towns outside Baku. In 1999, Baku's literati celebrated the 200th Jubilee of Pushkin with poetry readings.
To commemorate Azerbaijan's 10 years of independence from the Soviet Union and to honor its own 10-year anniversary, Russian oil company LUKoil sponsored the creation of a new bronze monument of Pushkin.
The statue, now found in the center of Baku, was sculpted by Russian Academy of Art member Yuriy Orekhov. Russian Ambassador to Baku Nikolay Ryabov helped to initiate the effort.
In January 2002 in Moscow, Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that the new Pushkin monument in Baku had great symbolic significance for the development of cultural connections between Russia and Azerbaijan.
The Pushkin statue is the second such monument that LUKoil has sponsored in Baku. In 1999, LUKoil erected a monument at the Academy of Sciences to honor the founder of Azerbaijan's oil chemistry, scientist Yusif Heydar Mammadaliyev (1905-1961). [See AI 7.1 (Spring 1999).] The statue is located between the adjacent buildings of the Azerbaijani Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Manuscripts.
LUKoil President Vahid Alakbarov noted in his speech at the opening ceremony for the Mammadaliyev monument, "A large army of Azerbaijani scientists has brought profit not only to their own republic. Today their technology works in the whole of the Caspian Sea, in Russia and in Western Siberia. The technology created by these scientists and petrochemists of Azerbaijan is relevant to the whole world."
Mammadaliyev's monument is not only a tribute to the memory of an outstanding Azerbaijani scientist, but also a visible reminder of an ongoing economic, scientific, technological and cultural collaboration between Russia and Azerbaijan that began centuries earlier.