Aliyev family visits an Armenian church in Nij, the site of the “Albanian-Udi Christian community ”of Azerbaijan reports on Aliev’s recent visit to the village of Nij located in the north of the country: “On May 15, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliev, the First Lady, Mehriban Alieva, and their daughter, Leyla Alieva, visited the Albanian Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Nij in the Gabala region.” As a reminder, Nij [Նիջ] is a locality in northern Azerbaijan formerly inhabited by a large Armenian-Udi population. The members of the two communities lived there for centuries in full fraternity, sharing three churches of the Armenian rite. From 1991, after the Armenians were driven out of the village, the few dozen Udi Christian families who lived there changed their surnames which ended in ” yan” so as not to be assimilated to Armenians and hunted down while many others left Azerbaijan to find refuge in Georgia, Russia and Armenia. The other surrounding villages and hamlets are mainly populated by Muslim Udis. One of the three churches in the village of Nij, the one in the Upper [Վերին թաղ] district dedicated to the Blessed Mother of God, which was abandoned and in ruins, was recently restored by the “Aliyev Foundation”. After having been entirely stripped of its frescoes and inscriptions in the Armenian language, the Church of the Holy Mother of God was handed over to the small group of sectarians presenting themselves as the heirs of the “Albanian Church.” The two main propagandists of this dispensary, which has a few dozen members, are Robert Mobili (Mobilyan until the 1990s) and Raffik Tanakari, self-proclaimed “preacher ” without any religious training or ordination. The renovation of this sanctuary and its transformation into an “attraction park” – a new Aliyevian discovery – today allows the propaganda of this great “democrat” and “humanist” to present this achievement as the expression of the legendary “Azerbaijani tolerance.”


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