Center for National and International Studies
“…..They put people before the choice between bread and conscience…”
Post-conflict situation. FB community shares news that Russian peacekeepers built water reservoir for the Armenians in Agdere with the total silence of Azerbaijani authorities. The e-media reports about withdrawal of Turkey from Azerbaijan and the positive answer of Erdogan to the suggestion of Pashinyan of a dialogue. The activists continue to express their concern with the situation in Karabagh and activities of separatist regime. The ADR movement’s Board meeting attracted attention to the issue of “ celebration of the anniversary of independence” by Armenians in Khankendi, non-implementation of the 9th provision of the agreement of the 10th November – about opening of communication between Nakhichevan and mainland Azerbaijan. The Board members called the government to take serious measures in response to contradicting the national laws activities of separatists and Russian “ peacekeepers”. Some activists interpret non-response of Aliyev to the dialogue proposal by Pashinian as unwillingness to weaken Russia’s position in the region. Azer Gasimli comments, that if the conflict is resolved, Russia will withdraw, the West will come instead and democratization will accelerate. Ilham Aliyev, argues Gasimli both wants to stay in history as the leader who resolved the Karabagh conflict, but at the same time does not want Russia to withdraw, concludes Gasimli. Osmangizi TV reports that Turkish ammunition leaves Azerbaijan for Ethiopia: Turkey withdraws its military equipment from the country. The public person, well known actor of Azerbaijan Rasim Balayev blamed Russia in the instability and uncertainty in Karabagh and in Azerbaijan’s historical territorial losses, such as Zangezur in 1920. He asserted that all the misfortune in the region comes from Russian policy. He also expressed scepticism, that Armenia is capable of peaceful co-existence with neighbours. Arif Hajili the leader of Musavat gave an interview to Osmangizi TV about situation in the region and Azerbaijan’s foreign policy. He analysed the foreign policy of Armenia, Russia, EU and argued that getting close to Russia will not make Russia an ally of Azerbaijan, but quite on contrary- the tougher neighbor. He argued that Azerbaijan should build close relations with alternative power centres like the US, EU, NATO etc. The Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan has defied the information by the Armenian sources that as a result of firing the Armenian soldier was killed and mentioned that recent official Armenian reports about arsons, stealing the cattle, shooting by snipers of Azerbaijani army are lies and provocations. Afghan Mukhtarli, the journalist in exile, shares the photo by Samir Kazimov of the house of the famous poet – the daughter of the Karabagh khan Natavan. The house has been destroyed by the Armenians during occupation of Shusha.There are contradictory reports regarding celebration of the Independence day in Karabagh by the separatist regime in Azerbaijan. The official sources report Armenian officials, first of all MPs, participating in the celebration, while independent sources – that neither Pashinian nor the Armenia ministers joined the events.
Social issues. Natig Jafarli of REAL while greeting an impressive victory of Azerbaijani team at Paralympics in Tokyo, attracts attention to the lack of integration of handicapped in economic activities and social life. He reports 600 thousand handicapped or 6% of population, but very few are visible in daily lives of the citizens. He argues that the authorities should adopt some serious measures to promote their integration, such as 10% quotas at jobs, creation of special conditions in the streets, transport etc. The political and civil leaders react with indignation to the yet another case of suicide by the war handicapped – this time Rovshan Mammadov from Jabrayil. Ali Karimli of PFP calls it horrible, that the war hero lived in poverty and desperation, who hanged himself after he failed to receive the pension of the 2nd category from the state agency. Azadlyg newspaper posts the video of crowds queueing to the clinic for vaccination. It also reports that the memorial desk with the names of war heroes in Kelbajar region was torn off. Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR and visiting professor at LSE reports that for the last two years only small percentage of the budget funds were spent on the compensation for unemployed. In 2019 of 11 m manat only 20.9 %, in 2020 of 10 m. manat only 16,5 %. He notes that the Unemployment Insurance Fund is formed by 0,5% of salaries of both the employer and the employee. He also comments on pension age in Azerbaijan, stressing that based on international standards the pension age should be established with the prediction of 12 years of life with pension. In Azerbaijan, this period is 7,25 years, while for women, whose pension age is increasing by 6 months each year – even less. The president’s assistant Shahmar Movsumov in his interview to AZERTAJ agency described the new rules and regulations related to quarantine. People with only 1 vaccine but with passport can enter the catering places and shops until the 1st October, but after that date– only those who received both vaccines. The passport is not required in the open catering places. Regarding the public transportation people are only required to wear masks there.
Human rights and liberties. The activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev reports the return of his complaint by the court because as it claims the president cannot be considered “responsible” in this case, as his website was operated by his administration. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev comments, that this time he will submit 3 complaints- one where the responsible is the president Aliyev, the second- his administration, and the third one -a mix of the two. The activist from the South of Azerbaijan reports that Russia has announced yet another Talysh a “persona non grata”. This is the stand up comedian from Belarus Idrak Mirzalizade for allegedly stirring hatred against Russians. Earlier he was sentenced to 10 days of administrative detention. The activist community are concerned about the fake COVID vaccinations ID, on the one hand, and on mandatory vaccination as the violations of human rights– on the other. They share the story of Arzu Mammadova and her husband who were declared to die of COVID, but in fact Arzu died of allergic reaction to the vaccine, while her husband – of stress. Ali Karimli lists 4 violation of law in this case. First, she faced threat of being fired if not vaccinated, then, she was vaccinated, despite the doctors knew she was allergic. The ambulance when called during an allergic reaction came only 4-5 hours after. Her husband had a strong stress after her death, and the doctors overlooked the heart problem, which resulted in his death too. Ali Karimli argues that still preserved resistance of Azerbaijan population to vaccination is a reflection of the population’s mistrust of the government and the health system. He states, that vaccination is the only way to protect oneself of the virus, but on the other hand it should not be mandatory, as there are people with health conditions, like Arzu Mammadova. He comments that the authorities spoil even the best initiatives, as forcible vaccination of people with allergy is simply a crime. Karimli, as many other activists, calls the community for vaccinations, not resist it in case of health conditions and be even more responsible in regards health of themselves and their families while the governance and the health system in the country is poor. The MP Musa Guliyev spoke against the return to normal at schools and Universities due to the high spread of Delta virus, especially that children are not being vaccinated. Meydan TV conducted a survey in the streets of Baku on whether the citizens are aware and ready to the new rules related to COVID vaccinations– that only people with vaccination passports ( except for people with allergy certificates) will be allowed to the markets, restaurants etc.
Azad Soz platform reports that police dispersed war handicapped’ protest meeting in front of the presidential administration building and detained participants. Tofig Yagublu reports that lawyer Elchin Sadigov was attacked in the court building. He is defending rights of Aliyev Faday, the son of Elchin Aliyev, who was killed by general Rovshan Akbarov. Defendant Rovshan Akbarov’s son Telman attacked a lawyer on the steps of the Baku Military Court after the trial. With the help of people nearby, it was possible to stop him. The lawyer filed a complaint against the offender. However, a similar story was recalled by Yagublu, when the police had beaten up the lawyer Choshgun Iskandarov and threw him out from the court building. Ilham Aliyev, comments the author, created such a system, that those who are supposed to provide for safety and rights of the others, cannot provide it even for themselves anymore. The leader of AG party Tural Abbasly reports that children are told at school not to come if their parents were not vaccinated. Those teachers who refuse to say that have their teaching hours reduced and their salaries cut. People are put before the choice between the bread and conscience, he concludes. The journalist Nurlan Libre decries the video by the “Instagram phenomenon” Sevinj Huseynova who called to violence against LGBT community. He states with indignation, that not a single prosecutor opened a criminal case about this incident, although it directly violates the article 154.1 of the criminal code.
Governance economy, corruption. FB community discusses the new investigation – video– by the blogger, activist and journalist Mehman Huseynov. This film, called The sea bandits reveals the criminal corruption schemes of the Maritime Safety Center, which formally was awarding tenders to the companies on the name of criminals – drug users, thieves etc. , who would disappear after receiving millions– would be killed, imprisoned, or else. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev argues that in any other country after emergence of such video the respective organs would immediately start investigation etc. However, nothing happened so far in Azerbaijan, so the country, concludes Hajiyev is getting used to the governance by the criminal gangs. People follow with concern privatization of the public beach in Nardaran, which according to the rumours belongs to Emin Agalarov. Azad Soz posts the video about the 2 m. worth apartment complex of MP Adil Aliyev in Czech republic. The leader of the Popular Front Party Ali Karimli compares the ex-minister of communications of Afghanistan selling pizzas in Germany to the ex-bureaucrats of Azerbaijan, who are the owners of multimillion properties abroad. He argues, that the level of corruption in Azerbaijan is incomparable to any other country’s corruption, because it is the key principle of governance of the ruling elite. Seymur Hezi of PFP recalls that all those bureaucrats whom president said he “detests” are still occupying their positions. Moreover, he argued that will “not allow them to take Shusha away from him”. Hezi suggests that most probably this means he will be built only state hotels and other objects. There are a few front lines in Shusha, he concludes: not to allow people there, to keep bureaucrats away, to calm Armenians, to speak to Russians. He calls it “battle for Shusha”. Natig Jafarli comments on the ongoing court hearing on the corruption of the ex-head of the State Fund for Support of NGOs Vugar Safarli, who is accused of misappropriation of 20 m. manat. Jafarli notices that there is a company called Porthos in the corruption scheme, but while in the movie ( Three Musketeers –L.A.) Porthos is fighting against the “grey cardinal” Richelieu, in Azerbaijani reality Porthos had to work for the “grey cardinal” ( the nickname of the ex-head of the presidential administration Ramiz Mehdiyev). “The King, not unlike in the famous Dumas novel, was not aware of anything” – concludes Natig Jafarli. While majority of activists and opposition leaders promote and publicize vaccination among public, there are some such as Ilgar Mammadov, leader of REAL, who often posts information reflecting
alternative opinions on vaccination, such as by Harvard professor of medicine Martin Kulldorf. Zohrab Ismayil, a head of an NGO, considers, that some opposition leaders should abstain from populism, and promote vaccination, and that the government has enough resources to prioritize Pfizer and Moderna over Chinese or Russian vaccines. He states that the shortest way to the health safety of the population is vaccination. Also, most of the activists decry forcible fining of the violators of the quarantine rules. The civil society leader and expert Sabit Bagirov writes that most important indicator of COVID of all is a temperature and vaccination should be continued.
Democracy and power-opposition relations. The activists continue to discuss the indifferent attitude of the president Aliyev to the Independence Day. Moreover the experts of the Osmangizi TV – Dashgin Aghalarli and Zamig Mammadli argue, that forgetting this day is a deliberate official policy. The activists contrast the high level of celebration of the Independence day in the other states, such as Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine to the officials totally ignoring it in Azerbaijan, although the country was distinguished by the largest demonstrations leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Seymur Hezi comments, that Ilham Aliyev has a “syndrome of facing history”, because he has blackened the founders of the modern nation state so much, that has to ignore the day of its formation. The opposition leaders and activists discuss the new draft law on political parties. Panah Huseyn the leader of APP considers that there is no necessity on the new Law on Political Parties, unless there are changes in the provisions on parties and elections in the Constitution. Overall, he is supporter of the simplifications and democratization of all procedures of creation, registration, unification of parties. However, he reports that the intention of the new law is the opposite – to complicate those procedures and create more limitations on various rights of the parties. He concludes, that if adopted this law may lead to complete marginalization and eliminating of the opposition. The opposition female leader, former MP Gultakin Hajibeyli reports lifting her travel ban and an opportunity to leave for Turkey and arrange visa for her son, who also has been on travel ban and could not start his University studies abroad. She summarizes the problems in the country by saying : “This is not life, and even not a survival” As if in confirmation of her words the other opposition activist Fuad Gahramanli posts the heart breaking photo of two female street cleaners, who exhausted are sleeping at their seats in the metro car. He accompanies this photo with very powerful comments about social contrasts in the society and calamities of people’s struggle for survival in the oil rich state. Gahramanli also comments on the quality of the current government. He argues that majority of them does not have any relations or experience in politics and they are not known to public. They were appointed to their positions either as a result of nepotism or corruption. That’s why majority cannot even speak at the level of the 10th grade pupil, and cannot express any reasonable ideas in the sphere they are responsible for. The FB community shares the video with the ceremony of rewarding of prominent personalities of Russian culture, where one of the awarded the Russian popular actress Maria Shukshina gave a speech full of criticism of the situation in Russia. The commentators compare it to Azerbaijan and express regret that rarely any local personality of culture criticize authorities publicly. The opposition activists are concerned about the increase of educational sectors in Russian language. One activist notes, that at the private kindergarten nearby the Russian speaking groups are 70% while only 30% are in Azerbaijani language. They view it as a direct result of the government’s policies.
Reference to history. Academic Jamil Hasanli, visiting professor at the University of London, continues the topic of the origins of the international campaign in secession of Upper Karabagh. He reports, that not only members of Congress and the Senate participated in this campaign, but the legislative organs of the various states of the USA. On April 21 1988 106 Massachusetts legislators had sent a letter to Mikhail Gorbachov. The Armenian population of this state was 76 thousand people. However, notes Hasanli, the Boston legislators expressed their concern not by their own constituency, but by the Armenians living in Azerbaijan, whose lives and culture they argued were under threat. Moreover, they stressed that few decades ago, the Soviet borders were not drawn according to the historical borders of Armenia. They even wrote that unless the Upper Karabagh unites with Armenia, there will never be peace in the region.
September 3, 2021