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Center for National and International Studies
“…Using such methods in political struggle is a shame and dishonour…”
The FB community continues to decry the blackmail against Prof. Jamil Hasanli and other activists and journalists, discrediting it as the tool of political struggle; express concern at the visit of the Russian Defence Minister to Karabagh and the expanding of Russian military presence; mourn the day of March events of 1918; interpret the rise of COVID statistics; widely share and quote the annual US State Department report on Human rights; discredit the corruption scheme of the State Oil Company and discuss the situation in the region and in the world.
Post-war situation. The FB community commemorates the victims of the massacres of March 1918, declared as an official Day of Genocide of Azerbaijanis. They recall that 103 years ago the Armenian Dashnak party leaders driven by the dreams of a Greater Armenia and supported by Russians committed crimes against civilians, massacring masses of children, old people, women, at cities and regions historically populated by Azerbaijanis such as Baku, Salyan, Guba, Shamakhi, Nakhichevan, Lenkoran, Zangezur and others. The first democratic republic of Azerbaijan decreed the creation of an investigative commission and have been marking this date for mourning in 1919 and 1920. Natig Jafarli of REAL argues that it was not only violence, based on ethnic and religious hatred, but had a political objective to “clean” the oil-rich Baku and Azerbaijani territory from Turkic ethnic groups and Muslims. If the modern nation state ADR had not been created, its territory would now be divided into smaller parts as regions of Russia, such as current Dagestan. The activists are concerned with the fact that in 4 months the Russians have brought in more than 50,000 Armenians, while the Azerbaijani authorities have not let anyone except the president and his family visit Shusha. The opposition leaders interpret the priority restoration activities of the authorities, that they are not interested in the speedy return of the IDPs there, but rather their own commercial interests. The FB community shares the news by ANAMA that the remains of two Iskanders have been discovered in Karabagh’s Shusha city, proof of the use of Iskander rockets by the Armenian army in the last Karabagh war. The activists stress its contradiction with the statement of President Aliyev, earlier having denied Armenia’s use of these. They also refer to the annual US State Department’s human rights report confirming Armenia’s hitting of Azerbaijan with 11 ballistic rockets. Arif Hajili of Musavat expresses great concern at the visit of the Russian Defence Minister to Karabagh. He states that “Ilham Aliyev very often tells people to stay quiet. But if as a people we do it – we will lose Karabagh, and from the sovereignty point of view – the whole country”. He notes that the meetings of the Russian and Armenian military have intensified. Ali Karimli of PFP argues that the case of Ter-ter had an objective to break the army, and to take revenge for the April battles. The ruling party YAP representative MP Aydin Mirza-zade argues that before arrival of Heydar Aliyev to power there were no clearly defined borders between the two republics and that is why Armenia managed to appropriate thousands of hectares in 1969. Only Heydar Aliyev insisted on delimitation and it resulted in the adopted official borders in 1975, based on the military maps, which he calls the visionary policy of H.Aliyev. He also reported that to commemorate the 31st of March (The Day of Azerbaijani Genocide) he had placed archival photos of the Baku streets in March 2018, which the FB administration blocked due to “scenes of violence”. Mirza-zade comments, that while for FB these are just scenes of violence, for Azerbaijani people – they are testimony of its bloody history. The activists. journalists, and bloggers are concerned with the activities of the Russian peacekeepers. The youth leader Bakhtiyar Hajiyev questions the preservation of sovereignty of the country under the control of Russian peacekeepers, referring to the opening by the Russian deputy Defence Minister Bulgakov of the new module-type of barracks for 250 Russian troops near Khankendi in Karabagh, built by the decree of the Defence Minister of Russia, Shoygu. He warns that the number of troops will be increased as they plan to build 25 of such barracks and hospitals for the soldiers. He also notes that there are three flags on the administrative buildings of the region – Armenia, Russia, and so-called Artsakh, but not of Azerbaijan, and there is free communication of the officials from Russia and Armenia without sanctioning by Baku. The extension of Khojali airport indicates Russia’s intention to strengthen its presence and to stay there for a long period. After the victory, the official propaganda in Baku was assuring people that there would be an Azerbaijani flag, Azerbaijani language and passports, but things have developed contrary to this statement. The Azerbaijani president, he concludes, when speaking about victory should give explanations on these matters too. The FB community shares information about victims of shelling in Karabagh – the soldier of the Border Troops in Gubadli region, and the other one who was buried in Masalli region.
The video blackmails. The FB community continues to discuss and to decry the blackmail strategies against activists which have become particularly frequent lately. The leading e-media is full of interviews and commentaries of public figures who denounce the video blackmails applied either to public leaders, journalists, or their relatives. The social networks spread revelations by Jamil Hasanli’s daughter, who described the circumstances of the event. She tells how the set-up was arranged, apparently with an agent, who made her a serious proposal and even gave her an engagement ring but entrapped her after adding a substance to her soft drink. The FB community has been sharing in “naming and shaming” campaign of photos of the agent who participated in the set-up. Professor Jamil Hasanli has denied the official refutation of responsibility of the state structures in this video and stated that this was done by the National Security Agency, with direct instruction of the ruling family. He argues that this was not for the first time, the provocation had been prepared thoroughly, including rented car, apartment and psychotropic substances. Arif Hajili of Musavat stated that the provocation against Prof. Jamil Hasanli and using of such dirty methods in the political struggle was a shame and dishonour. The group of political parties has sent an appeal to the presidential apparatus to investigate and punish those responsible, stating it not only the issue of the dignity of individuals which is at stake, but the reputation of the state. The economist Samir Aliyev comments that everything private should be protected by the state and by the government as a guarantor. Private business, private life – is all sacred and should be protected, while intervention is a crime and dishonour. He argues that the state should be even more interested in its protection, because this is not just a moral issue, but also political and economic, which may have a boomerang effect. The media outlets such as Azad Soz, Osmangizi TV broadcasts interviews with Prof. Jamil Hasanli, as well as with the wife of political prisoner Afghan Sadikhov, and the journalist Sevinj Sadikhova, who told an analogous story about herself. Seymur Hezi of the PFP states, that the style of fighting of the adversary reflects the level of that person; if the culprits of the blackmail are not found and punished, the top of the government is responsible, as such a disgusting action against a world-renowned scholar discredits the authorities. It undermines the trust in the state institutions and causes the public’s serious dissatisfaction – keeping silent is also a responsibility, as the government is a guarantor of impunity. The activists assert, that this way the government has punished Dr. Jamil Hasanli for telling the truth. The scholar in exile Nasib Nasibli is quoted as protesting moral terror against Jamil Hasanli, claiming “You have turned the economy upside down, finished with politics, collapsed the social level – if that was not enough, now you destroy the moral fabric of society.. If you have something to tell Jamil Hasanli, tell it, but do not perform this shame and disgrace. The democratic activist Ibrahim Ibrahimli stresses the uniqueness of the international reputation of Jamil Hasanli as a scholar, who promotes the reputation of the country by publishing his books through Harvard and Cambridge University press, speaking all over the world, and the blackmail against him is not only a serious crime, but an act of immorality. Azadlyg newspaper writes about destruction of the state by the ruling class of Azerbaijan. The e-media reports the resignation from the ruling party YAP of Professor Elvar Mirzaoglu in protest against the moral terror against Prof. Jamil Hasanli. He wrote in his resignation letter that recently there had been cases of illegal intervention in the private lives of prominent public and political leaders and members of their families, and no measures were being taken to investigate, punish or prevent such acts on the side of the government. This caused serious worry and concern to the scholar, who said that he is afraid for the privacy of his family members’ lives too. He denounces the blackmail videos against the respected and world-renowned scholar and asks to for his membership to be accepted in the led-by-him National Council of Democratic Forces. The other professor Gulu Maharramli decried the blackmail and said that “Using the family against one’s political opponents is a dishonour, social immorality and a crime!”
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev reports that for 3 years he was a subject of cyber-attacks, with hundreds of threatening messages arriving on his phone and social networks: he decries using women and exposing their bodies and private lives, illegally recorded as strategy against political rivals and asks the question whether the current authorities want to stay in the people’s memory with these events, and not as the ones who won the war? He also notes that the vice-president, a woman herself, keeps silence, and wonders what the effect of the dialogue with the political parties in the issue of blackmail is. Nigar Hezi of Musavat writes that one suffocates nowadays in this country and it seems that the authorities are participating in the contest of “how to become more disgusting”. She argues that while on the one hand there are hundreds of families of the war dead and handicapped with their pressing social issues, on the other, daily annexation of Karabagh by Russians before people’s eyes, and the Ter-ter case’s horrifying tortures. “The process”, she concludes, “has been prolonged, but the end looks much closer now”. The blogger and activist Mehman Huseynov tells that the government found a new kind of entertainment – enjoying watching the sex lives of their citizens. He says, however, that will open a secret to them, that it is not so interesting anymore, as one can see anything on the internet nowadays. He suggests that they had better install cameras in people’s kitchens and they will be surprised to see what people eat, some of them considering bread a delicacy. He concludes that this type of videos only raises their reputation, and nobody will condemn them for that. Taleh Bagirzade, political prosoner and leader of Muslim Unity Movement, made a statement from prison in support of Prof. Jami Hasanli. He categorically decried targeting Jamil Hasanli in a political struggle in such a disgusting form, and called it an insult to every citizen of the country.
COVID vaccination. The journalists report that there are violations in COVID vaccinations, because the clinics were given an insufficient number of doses. So, the clinics are able of giving only the first full jab dose full, while the second one is being divided between two patients. Sometimes the dilemma is even between simply giving a certificate or the actual injection. According to the doctors, such saving of vaccination is explained by diverting part of them to the private clinics, where the vaccinations are paid for. The journalist Aynur Elgunesh ironically comments that it is better to “install the cameras not in the bedrooms of their political opponents, but in the offices of the Health Ministry. Instead of putting your nose into the underpants of people, you better do your professional job, so we would finish with quarantine”, she concludes. Natig Jafarli comments ironically on the statistics and quarantine: “It appears that the infections were prevented by buses. For 9 days the public transport did not work – and the number of infected decreased, so it seems that using the overcrowded buses was the remedy against the virus”. Gubad Ibadoglu argues that the increase of the infected and death of infection at this stage was a bad indicator for the health system. The only way out was to accelerate the vaccination of the population. By now only 5.33% of the population was vaccinated, the majority of whom were doctors, police and bureaucrats. He mentions 4 reasons for the slow vaccination process: 1. Not enough vaccines, although official number of received is 6m. 2) Weakness of the health system 3) Poor management 4) Lack of interest of the population. He also presumes that most probably the government will not extend the quarantine, as it will have to give compensation to affected categories, which it is not willing to do.
Human Rights. The FB users spread and share information about protests of women and their brutal suppression by the police. Another video is related to the police’s violent treatment of the person who is collecting the metal waste, before the eyes of his underage child. The activists and journalists decry rewarding the manager of the falsified elections Mazahir Panahov by the order of Glory by President Aliyev in connection with his 70-year anniversary. The opposition leader Tofig Yagublu argues that this is a true act of immorality. He also expresses his deep gratitude to the wife of political prisoner a journalist Afghan Sadikhov, Sevinj Sadikhova, who demonstrates enormous courage by resisting pressure of blackmail by authorities and demands freedom to Sadikhov. The human rights defender Elshan Hasanov reports that another head of local executive power has sued the journalist on defamation grounds. “The prosecutor instead should have requested the investigation of facts which I revealed and published in social networks and give them a legal assessment”, commented the journalist Jamil Mammadli. The human rights defender and former political prisoner, Rufat Safarov, has posted a warning to the head of the Penitentiary Service, General Jeyhun Hasanov, to abstain from the mistreatment of the dignified and consistent activist, Karabagh war veteran political prisoner Saleh Rustamli. The FB users also share a quotation from the interview of ex-minister of Health and former political prisoner, Ali Insanov, that the president should start his struggle against corruption with himself and his family. The FB community widely shares and quotes the annual US State Department reports, including on tortures, political prisoners, suppression of freedoms and human rights in the country, the cutting off of means of communication with Ali Karimli since 13 April 2020, and the refusal to consider his family’s complaint in court. It also mentions the tortures and physical violence against PFP activist Niyamaddin Ahmadov, as well as against Fuad Gahramanli, Seymur Ahmadzade, Ayaz Maharramli, Ramid Nagiyev and Baba Suleyman. The report lists other activists who were illegally detained, such as Mammad Ibrahim, Bakhtiyar Imanov, or placed in psychiatric clinics, like Agil Humbatov, arrested on the trumped-up charges of Tofig Yagublu. The reports also cover the pressure on the human rights defenders, such as pressure by the prosecutor’s office on Rufat Safarov for his protection of the rights of opposition activists Fuad Gahramanli and Seymur Ahmadzade. FB reports the group representing Yunis Safarov starting a hunger strike in protest at the court decision which asked for a life sentence for Yunis Safarov. The human rights defenders argue that the court did not present enough evidence of the guilt of other people in his case (Safarov attempted murder of the head of the executive power of Ganja city). Fuad Gahramanli reports the results of the court hearing in the case of Karabagh rally participants, making it clear from the testimony that there was no crime committed. The activists assert that all persecution, blackmail, tortures and mistreatment take place by consensus and on instruction of the president. Nigar Hezi of Musavat argues that the results of investgations will be achieved only if the president resigns.
Governance, economy, social issues. The eco-activist Javid Gara targets the absence of any mechanism of waste cleaning of the streets in Baku and regional centers, or, as he suggests alternatively, the funds allocated for that are simply misappropriated. He reports his account as being overloaded with photos and information about the dire situation with contaminated waste arriving from all over the country. He urges to authorities to prepare an Action Plan on this matter, instead of preoccupying themselves with medieval issues. The story of the handicapped war veteran Haji Valiyev, who intends to commit suicide has been shared and circulated on FB. He is desperate after several failed attempts to be registered as handicapped in his category. The opposition brings to the attention of the FB community the corrupt scheme of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). Ali Karimli reports huge projects, such as gasoline stations, or refineries, by “SOCAR trading” abroad, in Slovenia, Georgia, etc. He notes that the mechanism of corruption is the following – SOCAR is a state within state, they invest in projects all over the world, but then it is misappropriated by the ruling elite, the family. He confesses that when SOCAR is investing in something, he feels worried, because he expects that after a while business will be privatised. He argues that there is no transparency in these investments, so this all goes into the private hands of the family. The FB community dicussses how the price rise of gasoline (3.7% official rise) pushed the consumer prices up on goods in the market. Samir Aliyev, an independent economist, argues that there is a speedy transfer of the world to the renewable energy resources and already 600 cities has taken obligation to fully transfer to renewable energy resources, In Germany they have built a device already to provide 300,000 houses with such energy, “but in a windy Baku and sunny Azerbaijan some initiatives are delayed”, he summarizes. The journalists report President Aliyev awarding his cousin Jamil Aziz oglu Aliyev with the 1st degree “Service to Homeland” order. The cousin – director of the Centre for Oncology is 75 years old, known as a magnate in the sphere of health service, is an owner of many private clinics, hospitals, among which is the AzeriMed network of pharmacies and has informal control over others.
International Relations. The political commentator in exile, Ramiz Yunus, argues that “The confrontation between the United States and Russia will intensify throughout the entire territory of the former Soviet Union, from Belarus to the South Caucasus and further in Central Asia. The reaction of political elites in the former republics of the Soviet Union in one direction or another will depend on the extent to which the United States and its allies take into account their mistakes in 2008 in Georgia and in 2014 in Ukraine.”
Natig Jafarli of REAL considers that the presence of China in the region is expanding and there is even a new contract of expected 8bn investment in the Georgian economy. He writes about benefits to the Azerbaijani economy of the new $400b worth 25 year-long China-Iran contract. FB reports that Erdogan called on all Turkic speaking states to support Azerbaijan and expressed his intention to visit Shusha after Ramazan. Habib Muntazir, an investigative journalist in exile, informs readers about the deportation of nearly 40 Azerbaijanis, claiming exile due to “unverified information about their identity and rejection of asylum”, of which 14 are members of one family.
Situation in Armenia. The expert and politician Gubad Ibadoglu analyses the pre-election situation in Armenia and notes that President Pashinian has held the second meeting of the Security Council in March. Because of the early elections in June this year, the prime minister should resign between 20 April and 5 May. He assumes that most probably he will delay implementation of these obligations before Azerbaijan and Russian until after the elections. Seymur Hezi of PFP makes parallels between the situation in Georgia during the Saakashvili period and the current situation in Armenia. He argues that Russia may choose the option as in Georgia when it gave preference not to more experienced Burjanadze, but to the politically unknown Ivanishvili, or in Armenia – Ara Abramian, as the old opposition is not popular and if not, Russia’s support would not survive.
Events in Georgia. FB users discuss tensions in Georgia in connection with the visit of Russian anchor Vladimir Pozner, planning to celebrate his birthday at a local restaurant with police hardly able to restrain an angry crowd protesting at the arrival of such a person, who is not supporting Georgia in the secessionist conflict. The Azerbaijani users remember the high official reception of the Russian politician Jirinovsky in Baku, in spite of his anti-Azerbaijani statements.