Center for National and International Studies
“Hatred for freedom, justice, the rule of law, and greed for power unites authoritarian and dictatorial regimes more than any piece of paper.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Azadliq newspaper reports that political prisoner Saleh Rustamli’s request for early release was denied. The request was considered on March 3 without the participation and knowledge of Rustamli‘s lawyer. Rustamli‘s lawyers applied to the court on December 6, 2021, while he was still on hunger strike, to be released from the remainder of his sentence due to his serious health condition. The court hearing was held in the Nizami District Court, and an expert examination was scheduled. Although Rustamli was promised that he would be released as soon as he stopped hunger strike, his request later was not granted. The lawyer added that the decision would be appealed.
Chairman of APFP Ali Karimli reacted to the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, calling it the extension of the alliance between Azerbaijan and Russia. Karimli wrote: “In today’s world, where the fight between freedom and dictatorships is intensifying, the Aliyev government reaffirms its side by making cruel decisions regarding political prisoners. It is not just a statement of alliance signed in Moscow. The governments of Azerbaijan and Russia are allies in their worldviews as well. Hatred for freedom, justice, the rule of law, and greed for power unites authoritarian and dictatorial regimes more than any piece of paper.” Karimli also added that his driver Pasha Umudov has been detained on false charges for two and a half years. “The struggle between the oppressor and the oppressed is going on in the destroyed cities of Ukraine and at the courts of Azerbaijan”, said Karimli.
Azadlig newspaper reports that Surakhani police raided the meeting of the Popular Front Party.
Members of the Surakhani district branch of the Popular Front Party gathered in one of the teahouses to have a meeting. The district police raided the teahouse and took about 20 people to the police station. According to the members of the party, the chief of the police station was also there and used violence against some party members.
The War in Ukraine. Russia’s Aggression Continues as it Commits War Crimes.
The Press Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan has issued a statement on the demolition of the building of the Honorary Consulate in Kharkiv. The Foreign Ministry said that as a result of airstrikes on the territory, the building of the Consulate of Azerbaijan was severely damaged. The car belonging to the consular officer was also damaged and became unusable.
As the West imposes broader sanctions on Russia, political activists in Azerbaijan grow more concerned about the alliance agreement between Azerbaijan and Russia. Journalist Seymur Hezi warned the government to refrain from the alliance as soon as possible. Hezi wrote: Putin is an aggressor. Is avoiding him the same as befriending him? No, it’s not. What about being allies while avoiding him? This is totally absurd. Those who seek an “argument” to justify this alliance are simply hiding behind the veil of “national interest.” There is no place for such a coward act in politics.”
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev reported that a small group of activists wanted to read a statement in front of the Russian Embassy in Baku, but the police did not allow them. Hajiyev wrote: Aliyev’s police did not allow five people to read a statement of protest in front of the Russian embassy. I asked the reason, and they said, “we need to ensure the security of the embassy.” I said that reading a statement for 5 minutes by five peaceful people is not a threat to them. The main source of danger is there, and you must protect us from them. A few days ago, thousands of people gathered in front of the Ukrainian embassy, and the police did not even think of the security.”
According to Meydan TV, Putin called on neighboring countries not to strain or worsen their relations with Russia. Moreover, The lower house of the Russian State Duma is debating a law that would give a 15-year prison sentence for sharing fake news about the Russian Army. If the law passes, only official news will be allowed for sharing publicly.
Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu argued that “it is absurd to call on the people to be compliant with Russia, given its “huge power”, and that this would only allow the Aliyev’s corrupt regime to prolong its life.” Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev shared a similar opinion saying that the regime’s desperate attempt to threaten its people with Russia would not help it hold on to power in the long run. Hajiyev wrote: Threatening us with Russian missiles is absurd while in reality, the regime itself is destroying the society with its malfunctioning corrupt system. In other words, the Azerbaijani government has been throwing “Iskender” missiles at its citizens for many years already. The regime’s missiles are unexploded, unseen, but kill slowly.”
Reactions to Sanctions against Russia
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli argued that “the heavy sanctions will turn the Russian people into a soft army of the West and open a second front against Putin in the country.” Gahramanli wrote: “The sanctions will leave a society that has integrated with the world in such a wide range of areas for 40-50 years, in such a situation that will inevitably cause great discontent and protests. At the same time, declining incomes, inflation, and growing social problems will further broaden this dissatisfaction. Most importantly, for a Russian citizen, there is no convincing answer from Putin as to why the country is suffering from so many issues. The occupation of Ukraine cannot be considered a legitimate reason for such losses, and it has no moral or ideological basis.”
Meanwhile, according to independent media, anti-war protests were held in 49 cities in Russia despite the risk of imprisonment. Approximately 7,000 people have been detained in the past nine days during the protests.
Chairman of APFP Ali Karimli compared the salaries of military servicemen and veterans in Ukraine, Russia, and Azerbaijan, arguing that the Azerbaijani government is disrespectful to its citizens. Karimli wrote: Putin said that the families of each serviceman killed in Ukraine will receive a lump sum of 5 million rubles (80,000 manats). Those injured in the fighting will also receive a lump sum of 2.9 million rubles (45,000 manats). The families of the dead servicemen and servicemen with disabilities will also receive a monthly allowance. Zelensky had previously said that the families of every Ukrainian serviceman killed in the fighting would receive 15 million hryvnias (850,000 manats). You have probably not forgotten that only 11,000 manats were given to the families of our martyrs who liberated our lands at the cost of their lives. I hope that you have not forgotten that our servicemen, who were able to prove their disability, were given only 8800, 6600, 4400 manats, depending on the degree of disability. I do not deliberately compare with Ukraine. In Ukraine, the government belongs to the people, to serve the people, and it is natural that such a government values the lives of its citizens. Russia, like us, is ruled by an authoritarian and aggressive leader. But even in this country, the lives of servicemen killed on the battlefields are given a value that seems inaccessible to us. Russia currently has trillions in losses due to its policy of occupation. The economy will inevitably go bankrupt. Our country has a huge state reserve even after the massive looting by officials. The Aliyev government has no shortage of money. They just don’t want to give money to the people, to take care of them. Dear compatriots, do you think that we, as a nation, are guilty of the fact that the Azerbaijani government is so disrespectful to its people?”
Azadliq newspaper shared a video of a Ukrainian MP of Azerbaijani origin who called on Russian people to open their eyes to reality. MP said: “Your Putin says he is liberating our Ukraine from neo-Nazis and bandits. My last name is Mammadov, I am Azerbaijani. I am MP from one of the most beautiful cities in Ukraine. Where do you see neo-Nazis and drug addicts here? By the way, a drug addict is Putin. Power is the biggest drug, and he increases the dose every day. He is 70 years old and has enjoyed his life. But in 10-20 years, your generation and your children will pay for what he has done. “
March 8, 2022