Tehran, YJC. -- Oscar-winning screenwriter Rustam Ibragimbekov should be back in his homeland of Azerbaijan preparing his unlikely bid to topple strongman President Ilham Aliyev at elections this October.
Instead, Ibragimbekov, who was chosen last month as presidential candidate by a coalition of Azerbaijan's main opposition groups, says the threat of arrest in Baku and the lengthy process of giving up his joint Russian citizenship in order to stand in the election are keeping him abroad.
"As I am the only candidate from the democratic opposition my colleagues decided that we should not risk jeopardising the common cause and recommended that I do not go back right now," Ibragimbekov, 74, told AFP following a meeting of the opposition National Council of Democratic Forces in the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
"I will go and sort out my affairs in Moscow and then I will go to Baku," he added.
Ibragimbekov, who co-authored the Oscar-winning 1994 film "Burnt by the Sun" with Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov, is an influential cultural figure in Azerbaijan, despite not having been back there since January.