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Center for National and International Studies
“… Let me say the word, bastard ! …”
The FB community continues to react with indignation at the brutal dispersal of the vigil on May 7th, arranged by the bloggers in exile; decries the detention on 9th May of the Musavat activists, protesting Russia’s military parade in Karabagh; continues to mourn the death of activist Bayram Mammadov in Turkey and to campaign for its fair investigation; celebrates 8th May as the liberation day of Shusha city, and asks questions in regards to the reconstruction and building of the infrastructure in Karabagh and the liberated territories.
Geopolitics. The FB community discusses Lavrov’s visit to Yerevan, and his message not to politicise the issues of “recognising a genocide”, Sputnik V vaccine, and status of Karabagh. They also note that Joe Biden disappointed Armenia by breaking the election promise and extended suspension of Amendment 907. The activists and journalists discuss the victory parade of Russia in Karabagh, along with 1000 armed separatist Armenian troops, and the absence of any official Baku reaction to it. Fuad Gahramanli argues that this parade is Russia’s demonstration of force towards Azerbaijan and Turkey, and her unilateral and imperial control over Karabagh. There is not a single conflict zone in the world where the peacekeeping troops would conduct a military parade, and this is a clear indication of who is in real power in Karabagh. At the same time, this parade demonstrates that Russia does not recognise the sovereignty of Azerbaijan and does not feel any limits in the realisation of her national interests here. Official Baku keeps silence, which only encourages Putin’s ambitions and brings confidence to Armenia, who just lost the war. He urges society to initiate a protest against this “shameful act of expansion” and to show a different stance from the government’s position on this issue.
Karabagh issue. The economic expert Gubad Ibadoglu comments on the official statement of the State Agency of Highways that the Fizuli-Shusha highway will be completed by 2024. He argues that because of the unresolved with Armenian party issue of the Red Market transit, the distance, expenses and timeframe of the road’s construction are increasing. Although Baku still cannot use its own territories for the roads, it will have to compromise on the issue the Armenian captured in the war soldiers, as Lavrov promised in Yerevan. Besides this, he urges people to demand transparency and accountability in regard to the construction of the road, publicising the conditions of the tender, its winner, etc.
Panah Huseyn, the ex-prime minister, argues that the appeal (not demand!) of the group of the war veterans to Lavrov (!) to remove the statue of the “murderer of Azerbaijanis and fascist Njde” from Khojavend, is an indicator of the situation within the country and is absolutely unacceptable. People are concerned with Lavrov’s answer to the question about the fate of the Zangezur corridor, that it can be only opened with the consent of Armenia. They are puzzled by the contradiction with Aliyev’s statement, that if they do not agree, it may be opened by force. The FB community celebrates 8th May as the day of liberation of Shusha. Leaders of the political parties, civil activists, journalists and bloggers at last mark the day not as one of grief and tragedy, but of liberation and freedom from occupation, glorifying the war heroes. The workers on the construction sites in Shusha report that, allegedly, on the most beautiful place in the city, there are three villas being built – for Ilham Aliyev, the Pashayevs and Erdogan. The activists comment that according to the 10th November agreement, by now there were not supposed to be any Armenian armed groups in Karabagh, but instead there are both Russian and Armenian troops made a joint march celebrating 76th anniversary of the victory over fascism. FB users share the quote from the last Armenian mayor of Shusha who said that “every stone in Shusha speaks the Armenian language”.
Relations with Russia. The opposition party Musavat held a protest meeting in front of the Russian Embassy in Baku against the military parade on 9th May. A number of activists were arrested, among them Gulaga Aslanli, Arzulla Bulud, Farida Asgarli and Farid Huseyn. Tofig Yagublu comments with irony, that it seems Ilham Aliyev is trying hard to promote a military parade of Russian peacekeepers in Karabagh. The e-media shares news that yet another doctor who rendered medical service to Alexei Navalny in Omsk disappeared. The sources remind the readers that two of the doctors previously died under unclear circumstances. It is reported that Murakhovski went to the forest hunting and did not come back.
Human rights. The e-media, activists and journalists continue to share, comment and mourn the mysterious death of the prominent youth leader, the former graffiti prisoner Bayram Mammadov. Meydan TV spread a video about the activities and personality of the young, principled activist, dedicated to the struggle for democracy. His friend Elgiz Gahraman reported that the Istanbul police created bureaucratic obstacles during his and Bayram’s father’s attempt to get information about the investigation. He mentioned that for 3 days under various excuses he was refused to see his son’s body. The human rights defender Rufat Safarov continues to decry those who repeatedly argue that Bayram’s death was suicide. Tofig Yagublu of Musavat asserts that Bayram Mammadov was killed, and everyone knows his enemy. The FB community continues to discuss the Ter-ter case. Arif Hajili, leader of Musavat, comments on the interview of the military prosecutor that it aimed at reducing the scale of the crime. But he failed to do it. Based on the interview, 109 people had undergone severe tortures and at least 10 people died of them. Of those who died, 5 people were post-mortem rehabilitated, along with the majority of those tortured. There is also a denial of the investigation by the Military Prosecutor’s office, but no answer to the question of who did the investigating. Moreover, the official argues, that those who are publicising the Ter-ter events are trying to cast a shadow on the victory of the 44-day war. Arif Hajili concludes that the state structures which are supposed to provide for the rule of law, including the “treason” one, have violated it, given tortures to innocent people, resulting in their deaths, and in the end either directly or indirectly have justified it. The oil workers’ rights defender Mirvari Gahramanli alerts the employees of SOCAR on the renewal of their contracts with temporary ones, arguing that the employer does not have a right to do that without the consent of the employees. She also advises to complain to the vice-president of the company, Khalik Mammadov, if such a case takes place. Azadlyg newspaper describes police violence against the PFP activist Kamal Sultanli, who upon his return from 2 years living in Europe was active on social networks with critical remarks and comments. “What happened to me did not take place in Northern Korea, or Turkmenistan, but in Azerbaijan”, he starts his letter with. He was taken from his home on 29th April 2021 to the Sumgayit branch of the City Head Police Office, where he was beaten and insulted for 9 hours. They also did this to his friend, whose number they found on his telephone. They forced him to write a fake confession but released him after that.
Democracy and power-society relations. The activists, journalists, bloggers protest the tragic death of ex-graffiti prisoner Bayram Mammadov by spreading the hashtag #bayramaneoldu (What happened to Bayram?) or making graffiti “Gul Bayrami” (The Festival of Slaves) on the walls of the Azerbaijan embassies in European states, such as in the Netherlands, or Turkey. NIDA Civil Movement issued a statement demanding release of the street camera recordings, testifying of witnesses and all other investigation data. The democratic community participated in the burial of Bayram Mammadov at the cemetery in Baku. Afghan Mukhtarli comments that “One day, undoubtedly the people whom you turned into slaves will level the statue to the ground.” Civil and political leaders post devastating mourning statuses and essays, expressing deep grief over the loss of the activist. There was a protest vigil devoted to Bayram in front of the Azerbaijani embassy in Istanbul. One of the activists quotes Bayram’s father, who said, “I wish he was still in prison, as he was supposed to be for 10 years, at least I knew for sure that I could come regularly, see him and embrace him”. The ADR movement’s board held its next meeting. The speakers and participants discussed such issues as poor governance, lack of structure in the opposition, and the apathy of the population. The deputy leader of the movement, Ellada Mammadli, expressed her protest at the violence against older women displayed by the police during the dispersal of the protest meeting on 7th May. They also touched the issue of the crisis of state management, the rise of consumer prices, and were informed about complaints from the population. They appealed to the authorities to bring clarity to the circumstances of the death of the young activist Bayram Mammadov. The leader of ADR Gubad Ibadoglu comments that even Lukashenka, who is called “the last dictator of Europe” does not plan to transfer power to his relatives. He signed a decree according to which in the case of his death, or any other emergency, the power is to be transferred to the Security Council, led by the prime minister, who, after a certain period of time, would then decree new elections. A video is spread on the site Azad Soz showing a policeman immediately grabbing a protesting woman at the rally on 7th May, taking her away in a police car as she declares “Ilham Aliyev is a thief himself – that’s why he appoints thieves as the heads of executive positions!”. The video with the most brutal dispersal shows an older woman who is being carried by a few policemen towards the police car, screaming: “Let me say the word, bastard!” The media reports 20 detained citizens, while the Ministry of Interior justified the dispersal by preventing mass action in the time of quarantine. Osmangizi TV streams a discussion of the reasons of the mysterious death of Bayram Mammadov in Turkey, stressing the suspicious moments in it. It also broadcasts the bloggers in exile discussion of the results of the May 7th rally, calling the people “to come out onto the squares so their children will not become slaves of the children of Aliyev”. Ali Karimli posts a video appeal of the war-handicapped young man who shares with indignation his postwar calamities – absence of job, health care and any aid. Tofig Yagublu calls 10th May (birthday of the late president Heydar Aliyev) a day of national tragedy. The journalist Shamshad Aga is convinced that the death of Bayram Mammadov has demonstrated the “meaninglessness” of Azerbaijani civil society. “Everything is dead” – he concludes.
Governance. Meydan TV reports the official announcement of Shusha city as cultural capital of the country by the decree of the President on 7th May. Azadlyg newspaper reports the award of a 4.4m manat tender by Azerishig to the company ‘Sabah Construction’, which was registered in 2015 with the capital 4 manat. It is located in Tezekend village, Beylagan region and its representative is Gafarov Jalal. There is no any other information about the company. The e-media reports the discovery, in the villa in Baku village of Mardakan, of the body of Ruslan Samadov – a security employee of the property, which belongs to Yevlakh region’s executive head Anar Taghiyev. The deputy head of Sabail region’s executive office, Khalida Byaramova, was fired. The reason is stated as “exceeding her duties”. She called the clinic’s leadership to give a fake certificate to her close relative. Earlier in 2019 her name was involved in a scandal with the suicide of 8th grade pupil Elina Hajiyeva. The journalist in exile, Ganimat Zahid, urges Ganja citizens to cooperate with the citizens of Baku in connection with the preparation of a new head plan of construction in Ganja city. He considers that they should put in order all the property certificates, create quarter commissions, approach critically the proposals of the authorities to be given apartments in the new buildings instead of the destroyed old houses, and warns that new billions will be stolen via this head plan. Fuad Gahramanli demands transparency and accountability of the National Academy of Sciences. In spite of 200 decrees on the development of science signed by the President since 2015, there is no information about what kind of progress has it made. He recalls that there is even the 2020-2025 program of National Academy of Science development, but this is a useless document, because if the development of science is not connected to the economy, there will not BE any development. Existing only at the expense of state subsidies, the Academy arranges conferences dedicated to “Heydar Aliyev and modernity”, serving only as a distraction from its low-quality products. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev reports that the company Cybernet, which he mentioned in previous postings, has been awarded $24.5m for creating the site of AVIS (Automated Tax Information Service), which is 3 times more than investments in Instagram, 2 times more than in Facebook, or 2.5 times higher that mobile system PicsArt in Armenia. Natig Jafarli comments that there were many useless budget-robbing projects in Azerbaijan, but the most illogical was that of the Caspian Islands. In 2011 it was announced by the author of the project, Ibrahim Nehramli, that it would cost $120b, 7 times the Azerbaijan national budget. He managed to use his main resource – a close connection to bureaucrats – and get a credit of almost $1b, but the project failed. This credit, however, was forgiven Nehramli, as he was not the only one who “consumed” it. The project was renamed into the New City and given to the balance of the newly created (with the supervisory board of bureaucrats) ‘Azerbaijan Industrial Corporation’, which recently announced 44 tenders with no transparency. Tofig Yagublu confirms his idea that the raids of the offices of the bureaucrats by special forces in black masks under the disguise of fighting with corruption is only to show off. He reports the case, widely covered by the media, of the State Border Service Colonel Samig Azizov, who was arrested last year and charged with corruption, but was released free from the court hall during the last court hearing. The FB community also shares a cartoon, which says that “Everyone who is getting arrested for corruption has a portrait of Aliyev behind him and the Order of Glory on his chest”.
Social issues. The activists stress the high level of unemployment, contrary to its official 5%. The leader of the Popular Front Party Ali Karimli, the leader of ADR movement Gubad Ibadoglu and other civil and political leaders widely share, comment and call for support for the protests of medical workers of the emergency/ambulance service, who since January were not receiving the promised increased salaries (as declared 4 times higher, due to the risks related to the pandemic). Gubad Ibadoglu addressed the employees of the health system who were protesting at the non-payment of their increased salaries, in a special appeal. He reports that in connection with COVID pandemic, the last year’s budget allocated twice as much money as compared to 1.7b manats in the previous year, and that there are decrees assigning increase of salaries to various categories of medical personnel, from 3 to 5 times more. He argues that there is enough money to cover all these salaries, but they are not reaching people due to the high level of corruption. He urges medical employees to demand transparency and accountability of resource spending and react and protest to all violations. The opposition and independent media spread the story of the family who are living in a tent, in spite of one of their members being a Karabagh war hero. They also share the poor condition of one of the regional schools, contrasting it to the luxurious restoration projects by the government abroad. Seymur Hezi comments with irony: “Do write in the victory of the army and of the doctors the name of the President, but at least give them the deserved compensation”. The journalist Avaz Zeynalli reports that the administration of the metro has deceived its 8,000 workers by promising but not paying them their salaries before the Ramazan Holidays (from the 8th to 18th May) and postponing them till after the holidays. He protests and demands that these salaries should be given as promised before the holiday. FB users spread the video showing an appeal of a mother of a military son and one handicapped in the war, from Amankend village in Bilasuvar region, who came to Baku to complain about the desperate financial situation in the family, and bureaucratic indifference to her attempts to get a job or any aid for her sons. Ali Karimli, the leader of PFP reports the desperate living conditions of the war-handicapped from Shusha, and reminds his followers that the Kapital Bank, which belongs to the family of President Aliyev will return every 11,000 manat credit given to such war-handicapped with 6-7,000 manat interest. Meydan TV reports the case of the 23-year-old IDP from Jabrayil settled in Bilasuvar region, Novruz Novruzov, who is war handicapped, having lost a leg below the knee in the front, and has lost vision in one eye. Because of these handicaps he cannot find the job, although he has appealed everywhere, including Jabrayl region head of executive office, but to no avail.
Relations with Turkey. The democratic community continues to question the safety of exile or travel to Turkey in connection with the mysterious death of the activist Bayram Mammadov. Gultakin Hajibeyli of NCDF has told her story of being slandered and when the serious crime department opened a criminal case against her consisting of 7-8 charges I 2003. She recalls that there was an active attempt to convince her to emigrate to Turkey. However, she remembered the murder of Sevil Babayeva in Turkey, the extradition of the journalist Rauf Mirgadirov, MP and businessman Huseyn Abdullayev from there to Azerbaijan, SOCAR’s acts in Malta and in Turkey with the support of the PKK. She ridicules the “flip-flop” version of Bayram’s death, likening it to the story of the ‘smuggling’ of the Iskander M rockets to Armenia, and convinces that people should not forget that they are dealing with a mafia type of government.