Dmytro Hnatyuk

Soviet and Ukrainian baritone opera singer

My acquaintance with Azerbaijanis was not limited to singers. This is how I got acquainted with political figure Heydar Alirza oglu Aliyev. This meeting took place at a big party hosted by Aliyev in Moscow. This young and handsome man made an unforgettable impression on me with his brilliant speech. I got to know him closely in the 1970s when the Ukrainian Art and Literature days were held in Azerbaijan. At that time, Heydar Alirza oglu was the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan and received us as the most honored guests.

Although he was the head of the republic, he did not let us feel it, he treated us like his close friends. After Moscow, the first vivid impression he left on me proved itself. There was no artificiality in his behavior, everything was from the heart. Thanks to Heydar Aliyev, the ten-day atmosphere was so friendly, cheerful, and pleasant that we felt like family with the Azerbaijanis. We sang, and danced, art made us family. This art was close to us, we understood them, and they understood us, we were similar to each other, and this brilliant man was the embodiment of the unity of cultures.

Later, when I was a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR for three terms, I often met with Heydar Alirza oglu, and I had the feeling that we were friends. When I saw Heydar Aliyev’s good attitude towards artists, my respect for him increased many times over. I heard many times how well he talked about Rashid Behbudov, how he spoke about the young Muslim Magomayev with paternal care and special sincerity. For artists, it is very important that such people provide support, even if only morally.

Now Heydar Alirza oglu Aliyev is the president of Azerbaijan, a sovereign country. In this position, his bright and unparalleled talent as a large-scale leader, a diplomat, and a person who feels great responsibility for the fate of the state, is fully revealed.

I had the pleasure of meeting this wonderful person again when I was invited to the celebrations dedicated to the anniversary of Muslim Magomayev.

Once again I was impressed by the ability of Heydar Aliyev to bring an atmosphere of sincerity to this holiday and exquisitely express his respect to the jubilarian- a person who made a great contribution to the culture of his people.