Center for National and International Studies
“Karabakh was not liberated but was handed over from occupying Armenia to the corrupt Aliyev government.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
The National Council of Democratic Forces issued a statement on the continuation of repressions and political arrests in Azerbaijan. The statement read: On May 28, the day when the Azerbaijani people celebrated Independence and Republic Day, the government of Ilham Aliyev began to fabricate a criminal case against another of his political rivals. APFP activist Razi Alishov was detained in Ganja, and his family was informed that he was being investigated on drug charges. On May 30, Razi Alishov was remanded in custody for two months on charges of drug trafficking. Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies often arrest opposition political activists on drug charges. Razi Alishov is another opposition activist charged under this article. Ilham Aliyev‘s repressive apparatus has been working in this way for almost 20 years. Political opponents are arrested on trumped-up charges and tortured, including political prisoners. Administrative arrests, illegal dismissals, threats to family members, and other threats are widely used against political activists. Against this background, some political prisoners who have served most of their sentences are pardoned once a year, sometimes every 2- 3 years, and Aliyev‘s lobbyists campaign in the world’s major capitals to deceive the world that he has begun serious reforms. Some politicians and diplomats in the West who tend to deceive themselves also believe this deceptive lie. Ilham Aliyev fills the vacated places in the prison with new political prisoners. It is no coincidence that more than 100 political prisoners still remain in prisons. The people of Azerbaijan and the international community must finally accept the need to break this vicious circle that the Aliyev regime has been cunningly continuing. The international community must respond adequately to the 19-year-old brutal repression in Azerbaijan. Finally, the “good and bad dictators” approach must end. The democratic world must put an end to the practice of turning a blind eye to the brutal repressions of the Ilham Aliyev regime under the pretext of “contributing to international terrorism”, “contributing to Europe’s energy security,” and such false arguments.”
Blogger and Head of Azad Soz Internet TV, who lives in exile in Germany, Tural Sadigli said that he is being persecuted by a group of people. The unknown men threatened to kill the journalist. Sadigli’s parents held a rally in front of the Presidential Administration to protest the persecution of their son. Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli said that “the Aliyev regime has repeatedly arrested and abducted critics abroad and blackmailed them through different channels.” Mukhtarli wrote: “Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly used terrorist groups against those he could not arrest. Last year, opposition figures living abroad, Bayram Mammadov were killed in Istanbul, Vugar Rza in Belgium, and Huseyn Bakikhanov in Tbilisi. Assassination attempts were made against Mahammad Mirzali, Orkhan Agayev, Ordukhan Temirkhan Babirov, and Gabil Mammadov. French police have arrested a few people in relation to the stabbing of Mahammad Mirzali. The fact that Tural Sadigli receives death threats should be taken seriously. European law enforcement agencies must ensure Sadigli’s safety.”
On Wednesday, a group of women and their children held a protest picket in front of the Milli Majlis demanding child benefits. Independent journalists have reported that, although the protestors were removed from the area while voicing their demands, there was no physical violence against them. Moreover, families of the arrested dissidents who were deported from Germany held a rally in front of the German embassy.
An activist and member of the APFP Ganja branch, Razi Alishov was arrested upon being charged with fabricated drug use, chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli said that “Alishov’s arrest showed that Ilham Aliyev was afraid of the people and did not believe that he could stay in power without instilling fear in society.” Karimli added that both the international community and Azerbaijani people must protest political arrests so massively that the regime will finally be convinced that such arrests provoke a backlash and not intimidate the people.
Animal rights activists Ali Malikov and Kamran Mammadli held a rally in front of the President Administration to protest Toplan’s brutal treatment of stray dogs. Kamran Mammadli said that Toplan is trying to increase the number of stay dogs, and then shoot them so that funds can be removed from the budget. Police detained the activists and took them to an unknown destination.
Governance, Transparency and Corruption
The International Budget partnership shared its rankings of the countries for 2021. As a result of the Open Budget Survey (OBS), Azerbaijan received 9 out of 100 for Public Participation, 35 out of 100 for transparency, and 68 out of 100 for Budget Oversight. According to OBS, to further strengthen public participation in the budget process, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Finance should prioritize the following actions pilot mechanisms to engage the public during budget formulation and to monitor budget implementation. Moreover, the ministry should also actively engage with vulnerable and underrepresented communities, directly or through civil society organizations representing them.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the ratification of a new bill that will put the agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Ossetia on the settlement of dual citizenship into force. With this document approved by the Russian president, all citizens of South Ossetia will be able to easily become Russian citizens. The new bill raised questions in Azerbaijan whether Russia will follow similar practice in Karabakh region. Journalist Seymur Hezi said that considering the current situation, the risk is real. Hezi wrote on his social media platform: “The point is not that Putin‘s steps no longer have any legitimacy in the world, but also that Azerbaijan is still unable to show in its political decisions that it accepts and understands this reality. Moreover, it is clear that what happened is part of both a new and an old political plan. As Putin loses on the European front, he thinks the second important front for him is the Caucasus. That is to say, it wants to keep the Caucasus as its backyard. Therefore, Putin organizes rallies against Pashinyan who is not afraid not to side with him. The goal, of course, is to create new strongholds beyond national borders to prevent a complete retreat. If it is not possible to overthrow Pashinyan– most likely will not happen – Russian will try to influence the separatist regime in Karabakh, by disrupting the ongoing peace negotiations under the Western umbrella showing that Yerevan has no moral and political power over Khankendi. Of course, all this is not what Putin will do, but first and foremost what he wants to do. Because the Ukrainian front shows that Putin does not have the luxury to create another large or medium-sized regional conflict. On the contrary, its conjuncture is deteriorating. However, if the share of risk in any issue is one percent, if it is realized, this risk becomes one hundred percent. Therefore, Azerbaijan must act with maximum agility and in harmony with the democratic world.”
The Azneft circle will be closed from June 6 due to the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. During the time of the race, drivers will be able to use alternative routes. The Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be held on June 10-12 in Baku.
As part of the presidential pardon, the former head of the Monitoring Center of the Ministry of National Security, Major General Teymur Guliyev who was charged under Article 18 of the Criminal Code, was released. Colonel Salim Mammadov, an employee of the Main Department for Energy and Transport Security of the Ministry of National Security, was also pardoned. Moreover, the former Minister of Social Security Salim Muslimov was released under house arrest. However, despite the demands of the activists and opposition majority of political prisoners were not released. Chairperson of the National Council of Democratic Forces Jamil Hasanli said that “in Azerbaijan people are not only arrested for political reasons but also pardoned or not pardoned for political reasons.” Hasanli wrote: “Niyamaddin Ahmadov, who has not committed a crime, and has been arrested on a false accusation is still in prison. If the presidential pardon was issued out of respect for humanism, then what kind of humanism is it that Taleh Baghirzade, Abbas Huseyn, Movsum Samadov, Abgul Suleymanov, Ahsan Nuruzade, Seyfaddin Shirvanov, Jabbar, Shamila Jahid, who were imprisoned at a young age, did not get a share of it. All these people are political prisoners. Niyameddin was not pardoned because he is a member of the Popular Front Party and Ali Karimli‘s bodyguard, and the rest are members of the MBH, the Islamic Party, and people of faith.”
According to the official statement, of the 2.2 billion manats allocated for the reconstruction and restoration of liberated territories in 2021, 2,178.4 million manats were spent. Eighty-five percent of the allocated budget was used for the design and construction of roads and railways. Thus, 73% of the executed amount was provided by the Azerbaijan State Agency of Motor Roads, 12% by the Azerbaijan Railways Closed Joint-Stock Company and several other agencies. These funds were allocated to 18 customer organizations and distributed to 71 projects. However, according to Gubad Ibadoghlu, neither the client government agencies nor the companies belonging to the executive political and business “elite” disclose how much money is spent on projects.” The statement of the Chamber of Accounts on the implementation of the state budget for 2021 contains a brief information on the “implementation of funds for the reconstruction and restoration of the liberated territories. Commenting on the lack of transparency, Ibadoghlu said that “this means that Karabakh was not liberated but was handed over from occupying Armenia to the corrupt Aliyev government.”
According to the Chamber of Accounts, the execution of expenditures at the end of the year allows directing budget funding to the accretive bank accounts, thus not returning the remaining funds to the single treasury account at the end of the year. Economist and chairperson of ADWP
Gubad Ibadoghlu said that, because of this practice, in December, government agencies and companies do not spend and misappropriate the raining budget funds in order to prevent their return to the single treasury. Therefore, in December last year, the monthly performance was 2.5 times higher than the average monthly figure. Ibadoghlu wrote: “Expenditures in December amounted to 18.6 percent of total budget expenditures in 2021 (16.1 percent in 2020). However, the estimation for December last year was 5112.9 million manats, which is 1.62 times more than the initially estimated 3145.4 million manats. Although I share my concerns about this issue every year to warn the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry still does not take it into account. On the contrary, every year, in December, the amount of expenditures are increased even more than in previous years.”
June 3, 2022