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Center for National and International Studies
The Karabagh conflict. The FB community shares with high concern reports about intense firing at Shusha. It asks why did not the Russian peacekeepers act? The strong negative reaction was caused by the publicized document of Russian Ministry of Defence of Russian Federation calling the separatist regime “Nagorno-Karabagh Republic” while announcing the tender on the service works in the military camp there. Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry expressed its protest to the Russian Defence Ministry in connection with usage of the name “Nagorno-Karabagh Republic” on its site on purchases. The Russian party’s official response connected it to the typo.
The activists also share with indignation yet another proof of Russia’s hostility to Azerbaijan- the Russian Duma Committee on CIS Affairs Zatulin’s congratulations of Karabagh Armenians on the occasion of their “Independence Day”. The especially stress the words that “Russia will not allow the Armenian people to be humiliated with impunity in its historical land”. Some argue that Russia’s talking to Azerbaijan by means of such humiliating ultimatums is explained by the fact that Azerbaijan has stopped its operations on restoration of its sovereignty while it was so successful, and brought Russian troops in. Fuad Gahramanli argues, that Russia already built its military base in Azerbaijan under disguise of peacekeepers. She also located new base in Zangezur. He considers most important objective to make Russia, who is limiting Azerbaijan’s sovereignty, involved in activities beyond its duties, start to withdraw its so called peacekeepers from Azerbaijan. Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR argues that uncertainty caused by the agreement on 10th November has turned into a negative for Azerbaijan certainty – in other words Russia dismembers Azerbaijan. She creates another state on our territory and does it openly. He explains the government’s silence by the political bargaining to preserve power. He urges society not to be indifferent but actively resist illegal activities of Russia forces. The activists share reports that in 2021-2022 year the new course of “History of victory” will be taught at all schools, and only in Azerbaijani Turkish language. They remind the readers and note with irony that Khankendi, Agdere, Khojali and Khojavend are not under state control and the schools there will not teach the course. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev describes three scenarios of Russian peacekeeper’s presence in Azerbaijan until 2025. The best case scenario is Russia indeed wants peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This means it will restore relations between the communities, Armenians will integrate in Azerbaijan life, will quit its territorial claims and thus peacekeepers after 5 years will complete their mission. The worst case scenario, is that the creator, inspirator, instigator of the conflict for her own national interests Russia has brought its “peacekeepers” when she saw that Azerbaijan is quickly restoring its territorial integrity, and occupied these territories. Currently it is increasing its reputation there with the help of humanitarian aid to Karabagh Armenians, and convincing them , that Russians are their only defenders. When it is unhappy with Azerbaijan on some issue, it is either “recognizes” Nagorno-Karabagh, or hints by words of Jirinovski, that it can become part of Russia. There are various scenarios between these two, but most importantly not to let people get comforted by the partial restoration of sovereignty and remind them about Russia’s role of occupant. The ADR’s BIZ TV discussed the role and behaviour of Russia in Karabagh, and makes some predictions of political developments in this regard.
The activists continue to question the statement of the president Aliyev, that Armenia signed capitulation agreement. The ruling party representatives, MPs continue to praise the role of Ilham Aliyev and his father in state building. This time MP Siyavush Norvuz reminded his followers about H. Aliyev’s role as a saviour of Nakhichevan in the times of its blockade and attack by Armenia. The activist in exile Ramiz Yunus regrets that Ukraine is not supported by the US and EU who usually condition their position by domestic reforms in Ukraine. He argues that the problem is the US perception of the conflict in Ukraine as of a regional, not global nature, which it outsourced to European states, which in turn were easily bought off by Putin. He argues that “as long as there is no full scale peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia which accepts territorial integrity of each other under U.N., there always be danger of war”. The Russia factor is increasingly decried by FB community and the activists. They consider that any justifications of the extending Russian language usage and education is artificial ( such as “this is about prominent culture, literature” etc.) and only means acceptance of occupation and slavery of Russia, so its spread at the state level is unacceptable. The opening of the new airport in Fizuli region caused contradictory reactions in the society. While representatives of ruling and pro-government parties have praised it “as a historic event”, the activists urged not to exaggerate the importance of this opening. Ganimat Zahid reminded his followers that there were many similar projects of “great local” significance –The Diagnostic Center, Olympic Sports Center etc, but which appeared to be corrupt and expensive decoration.
Relations with Turkey. Azerbaijan’s relations with Turkey increasingly is a matter of concern for FB community. Fuad Gahramanli of PFP analyses the reasons of these relations’ lagging behind. He considers that none of the parties made any public statement on the news that Turkey is withdrawing its military equipment from Azerbaijan. He asserts that Turkey does not want publicity on this issue, because it did not get any role in peace making in post-war Karabagh, neither Azerbaijan wants public to know about deprivation of Azerbaijan of military support of its reliable ally. He considers that there was a series of policy mistakes resulting in this event. 1). Turkey was distanced after the war from the 9th of November agreement and peace keeping operations thus providing for Russia’s hegemony, which was a serious historical mistake. 2) Turkish bases were not deployed in the liberated territories after it became obvious that Russia is arming and strengthening separatist regime. 3) The plan of musical school by MHP was rejected by Azerbaijani officials, which sent the signal of not willing of Turkish participation even in the sphere of culture. 4) During the Erdogan’s visit to Shusha, rejection of the proposal to open Turkish consulate in Shusha, followed by the removal of the Turkish flags in the city- was another mistake. 5) The Shusha statement is still on paper and did not turn into military cooperation leading to the mutual obligations. 6) The absence of coordination of the foreign policies of two state has been reflected in the attitude to the Crimean Platform and Azerbaijan has allied with Russia, who is a rival of Turkey, in the international initiative. He concludes that all this proves that bilateral strategic relations instead of strengthening are moving in opposite direction, except for some corporate, business interests.
Ukraine’s Zelenski’s visit to the US. The Fb users closely follow the visit of then prime-minister Zelensky to the USA. They anticipate him to attract significant investments to the country confirmed by his meeting with executive director of Apple Tim Cook and an agreement to implement joint projects. They contrast it to behaviour of the national authorities, who are in contrary are taking rich resources out of the country. Osmangizi TV experts argue that the officials in Baku deliberately underestimate Zelenski’s visit to the USA.
Human rights and liberties. Human rights defender Rufat Safarov compares the conditions of presence at the court during the hearing of Rovshan Akbarov and Eldar Hasanov. The former who is accused of murder sits next to legal defenders- insults and threatens them, while the latter who is accused of corruption – is kept behind the glass wall. The FB community shares and critically comments the statementof the deputy head of the State Committee of Family, Women and Children a former chess player Aynur Sofiyeva, refuting the increase of domestic violence statistics in Azerbaijan. She noted that violence against women remains an actual problem all over the world, and stresses that may be not statistics, but the severity of the violence against women in Azerbaijan increased. The human rights lawyer Rasul Jafarov reports a “small but significant” success in the Ter-ter case investigation. The complaint of Ismayil Huseynov after 3 years was accepted for consideration by the Court of Appeals. Previously in 2017 he was deceived by being told that he was late for submission of his complaint and that his sentence of 15 years was replaced by the life sentence. Rasul Jafarov stresses the role of society, activists and human rights defenders who help to achieve justice in the country.
Social issues. The topic of donkeys abroad and comparison with the living standards of Azerbaijani population continues to be discussed on the pages of FB. Azad Soz posts a video reporting that the Swiss government monthly allocates 300 EUR for the support of donkeys, which is higher than the support for unemployed in Azerbaijan. The journalist Shamshad Aga has posted request for aid for the the family of war handicapped, who is another victim of the bureaucratic indifference and is in dire situation. He has serious problem with psychic health, and tried to throw his child out from the window, and to suffocate his parents. The dwellers of the Baku coastal village Bilgeh has staged a rally against narco-barons, and the police , as noted the activists, showed a solidarity…with the latter, as they dispersed the rally.
Governance, economy, corruption. The economist Natig Jafarli writes about growing number of problem loans in the country with 2,5% growth last month. He reports that now it constitutes 6,1% of the total loan portfolio, and while the critical threshold in the world is 3%, their number in Azerbaijan exceeds it two times. The worst indicators are at Gedabey region-14,4%. In Baku city it is 6%. He explains this high inability of the population to return loans and credits by pandemic and by the government not having supported business and unemployed. He also notes that the lowest number of loans are in Nakhichevan, Sadarak region, which he argues is due the fact that credits were given by Nakhichevan bank, which belongs to the circle of the head of the Autonomous Republic and there will be very few who would dare not to return credit to him. The academic and politician Jamil Hasanli comments on the confessions of the ex-head of the State Find for Support of NGOs Vugar Safarli accused in corruption, who admitted that he was giving his property for rent to the state body he was responsible for by the inflated prices. He also testified in 2019 this premises were extended by 421 sq.m. which served the office for the “troll factory”. The employees of this factory worked full working hours to respond to the FB posts critical of the government. These comments were of the same content and were repeated in various posts. He comments that they save money on child benefits, but spend budget funds generously for the “troll factories”. He concludes that the authorities fully distanced from the people and turned the whole country into the troll factory and on top expanding their private business at their expense. The blogger in exile Mahammad Mirzali and ex-SOCAR’s employee Ruslan Jalilov in their interview to the Azadlyg newspaper disclosed shocking illegal machinations by the president of SOCAR Rovnag Abdullayev and his team. The e-media also reports with the reference to the Ministry of Interior that the cases of theft from the oil wells were reported recently. For instance 3 people ( 2- from Salyan region, one from Baku) were accused in stealing parts of the engine and generator from the oil well worth of 591,900 US dollars. Azad Soz platform reports that vice-president Mehriban Aliyeva “collects taxes on the name of the late Heydar Aliyev from the businesses”. The activists comment, that Ilham Aliyev uses the nationalist feelings to keep people in euphoria, such as for instance, mentioning Zangezur region, which is part of Armenia, or calling Zangilan region of Azerbaijan “ Eastern Zangezur”, so that it creates an impression that Zangezur is taken back and there is a full scale construction there. The FB users share a reminder that the country which has 3000 daily cases of infected has been 4 months without the minister of health, but the difference between the time of the Minister Shiraliyev in office and his absence is not felt at all.
Democracy and power-society relations. The activists and politicians continue to discuss the draft law on political parties under preparation. The representative of AG party comments that the issue is not the parties represented in the parliament as there are extra-parliamentary opposition parties whose influence in the society is much more significant than of the parliamentary ones. Altay Geyushov comments on the serious mistakes which Putin makes when referencing to history of Russia, which he says are at the level “chaykhana conversations”. Bajhtiyar Hajiyev notes, that if Russia’s ministry of culture official site wrote one day Aliyev the dictator then all these appointed MPs and official commentators would immediately react – “what a disrespect to our country”. However the very same MPs in reaction to the Ministry of Defence site’s mentioning “the Nagorno Karabagh Republic” comment- “ do not pay attention”. The FB community congratulates ex-editor in chief of the Azadlyg newspaper Ganimat Zahid with his election as a chair of AND- the organization of Azerbaijani democrats abroad. Tofig Yagublu quotes Rahim Hajiyev, the current editor in chief of the Azadlyg Newspaper , on comparative economic data of Azerbaijan and Estonia. He reported that the volume of Azerbaijan’s non – oil export in 7 months is equal to the volume of export in Estonia just in 1 month. This is in spite of the population of Azerbaijan almost 10 times higher than in Estonia. One of the journalists quotes working in the Academy of Sciences father of the deputy minister Anar Aliyev, who says that “during the last 15 years banks are the most criminal places in Azerbaijan”. The journalists comment, that while it is known whom the banks belong to, the radicalism of the parts of the government is really surprising. The academic Jamil Hasanli considers that many post-Soviet rulers and some parts of societies are still driven by the ideas of Stalinism. He recalls how strong were memories of Stalin and Stalinism among the Soviet people even after the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party which officially discredited the cult of personality, and how people were still hanging the portraits of Stalin privately. He posts an interesting archival document – a letter of the citizen of Baku Nazim Khankishiyev to Nikita Khrushov complaining of his boss, who still had the portrait of Stalin on his apartment’s wall. Prof. Hasanli concludes that regretfully despite 60 years since the 22nd Congress of the Communist party the ideas of Stalinism are still developing in Russia and in following her Azerbaijan. Natig Jafarli posts an essay which states that it is not enough to be in opposition, but to present an alternative too. He refers to the critics of the military campaign of Ilham Aliyev, who stopped the war at the time of successful restoration of the sovereignty. He considers that the choice at that time was between “the bad and very bad”, so at least the major part of the occupied territories were liberated. He praised the landing of the first plane to the newly opened airport in Fizuli as a success of the official policy and wishes that the second objective – withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers in 2025- will be achieved too.