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Center for National and International Studies
“Listen … We are Coming !”… the surge of united females
The FB community discusses the role of women in the post-war processes in the country, the police’s suppression of the feminist rally on the 8th March, continues to attract attention to the needs and problems of the war heroes, criticises the Russian peacekeepers’ activities, decries the blackmailing by the authorities of the young blogger-in-exile, Mahammad Mirzeli, reacts with strong disapproval at the tortures of Niyameddin Ahmadov, comments on new arrests in Nakhichevan Republic and growing division within the ruling elite.
Post-war situation. The independent and opposition media quotes Putin’s MP, who declared that Russia has come to Karabagh forever. Osmangizi TV discusses the Caucasus spring reflecting the Kremlin’s struggle over influence in Georgia and Armenia. Many argue, that not releasing Armenian captured military is the right decision, because they were captured after the peace agreement on the 10th November and that’s why they are not considered POWs, so if freed without punishment will inspire revanchists. The opposition attracts attention of the FB users to the comfortable conditions of the Russian peacekeeping troops at their posts in Karabagh and compare them to those of Azerbaijani troops, questioning the capacity and political will of the government, who has 40-50b currency reserve. Azerbaijan plans 10,000 wise military exercises on the 15-18 March. Natig Jafarli of REAL reports that according to the statistics of Karabagh authorities this January-February, 93 new enterprises were registered there — some in construction, but mainly in the service sector. He explains it by the fact of the presence of 1,960 Russian peacekeepers, whose service as a source of revenue for the local population replaced the previous exploitation of resources of the occupied territories. He argues that this is the main objective of Russians, that they will not only play the role of defenders, but also the source of income for the Azerbaijani citizens of Armenian origin, so after 5 years, they would oppose the will of the rest of population to make Russians withdraw. He asserts that Baku — not Russian peacekeepers — should provide all opportunities for the well-being of its citizens of Armenian origin in Karabagh.
Incident with UNICEF bureau head in Armenia. The FB community shares and comments on the declaring of Marianne Clark-Hatting, “persona non grata” in Armenia and her expulsion for “espionage in favour of Great Britain and Azerbaijan”. She was a head of UNICEF bureau in Armenia.
Social issues. Ali Karimli of PFP continues to attract attention to the problems of the war veterans, whose acute problems were still being neglected. He mentions cases when the handicapped cannot get their monthly benefits due to the various tricks and falsifications by bureaucrats. He posts a photo of the dire living conditions of the parents of Colonel Mehman Gambarov, who lost his life in the war, and appeals to his followers to compare it to the multimillion villas and automobiles of the bureaucrats and their children. He argues that this is a photo not only of a specific family case but symbolizing the authorities’ “care” for the troops and war victims. Karimli also mentions the other war hero, Elchin Pashazade, who cannot find a job, does not get social benefits or compensation, and cannot support a family with two underage children. The experts and journalists warn the public on possible price increases on public transportation. The economist and politician Gubad Ibadoglu gives tragic statistics showing a high number of new born children in 2020, whose weight was less that 1,000 grams and some increase in child deaths under the age of 1 year. He argues that this number first of all reflects the low level of nourishment, hard living conditions, absence of medical insurance, and incapacity to afford required medical procedures and treatment by the pregnant women, along with dire ecological conditions, such as poor quality of tap water, increase of tension in the society and family. He mentions with regret that the decrease of the infant death rate was not included in the list of the expected results of the Azerbaijan Republic’s Strategy on Children for 2020-30. The other activists comment that child benefits are urgently needed and ask the question whether millions of stolen budget money is not enough for the bureaucrats, that they had to cut the support for children’s basic subsistence, medical treatment, etc.
Human rights. The FB community reacts with outrage to the blackmailing (by a secretly recorded sex video of his sister with her husband) of the blogger-in-exile Mahammad Mirzali, for his regular criticism of the authorities. Gultakin Hajjibeyli comments that she is not aware of such methods of blackmailing opponents, either by Josef Goebbels, who served for 12 years as propaganda minister of the Reich, or its lead ideologist Alfred Rosenberg, nor by Stalin himself. By doing this, the authorities send a message to society, that those who criticise us cannot be allowed to have a house, car, subsistence, private life, but even to have a family and children. That’s why, Hajibeyli concludes, she cannot even call it fascism, but rather YAPism, and it seems that in some areas, it is even worse than fascism. The feminist activist Rabiyya Mammadova comments that people should not be ashamed of making love, as the authorities have been using sex videos for years to intimidate people and silence its critics. She argues that it’s better for people to make love than rob and violate the rights of the war veterans and poor as the government does. She asserts that this taboo should be broken and that those who view the video are as low as those who spread it. The FB community shares and decries reports of severe tortures, which Karimli calls “gestapo type”, given to PFP activist Niyamaddin Ahmadov, who told about them at his court hearing. Ganimat Zahid and other activists, journalists and bloggers decry the long-lasting tortures, alternating with rude cold water awakening to prolong the tortures. The tortures were aimed at making Niyamaddin Ahmadov testify against the leader of the PFP Ali Karimli, to try him with “financing terrorism” charges, but he resisted them with dignity. Gultakin Hajibeyli calls him a hero and says that everyone is proud of him. The FB community insists on his freedom. Azadlyg newspaper publishes the human rights defender Rufat Safarov’s story about the irony of punishment of the executioners in the country, reminiscent of historical events. He describes how Ahmad Ahmadov, the former Minister of the Interior of Nakhichevan Republic (nicknamed “Ahmad the Donkey”) – who was recently arrested for 4 months — used to personally observe the tortures and medieval humiliations of his rival the former Security Minister Vali Alasgarov in prison. He recalls the book by Simon Sebag Montefiore “Stalin: the court of the red tsar” which described Stalin watching the tortures of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rikov, etc behind curtains, and reminds his followers of the irony of the executioners being executed themselves in the course of the history, such as Beria and others.
Afghan Mukhtarli decries the immoral methods which authorities use to silence their critics. They have hacked the profile of Narmin Shahmarzade and shared personal information, also spread the video of a family member of the blogger Mahammad Mirzali. He comments that some justify it by the fact that Mahammad was cursing Aliyevs, so the latter were taking revenge. What about Narmin then? – he asks and argues, that these immoral methods reflect the nature of Aliyevs. They cannot change its nature, he argues, even behind the show of reforms. Narmin herself tells Meydan TV that she suspects the police in the cyberattack in response to her recently organized protest actions, as a preventive measure. By spreading personal information, the state tries to intimidate potential protesters, besides targeting the activist herself. She reports that she has enough evidence to appeal to the court. The youth leader Bakhtiyar Hajiyev complained to the presidential administration and Ilham Aliyev personally for the fake news spread from the hacked account of Narmin Shahmarzade, with alleged voice of Hajiyev. The latter is confident that this was a punishment by either the Ministry of Internal Affairs, or the National Security Agency for his criticism of vice-president Mehriban Aliyeva.
Activism, democracy. The FB community discusses and supports the protest rally of the feminists on 8th March, International Women’s Day with the slogan: “Listen … we are coming!”. Ali Karimli of the PFP compares the reaction of the authorities to the rally in Azerbaijan, brutally suppressing it; to that in Kazakhstan and Kirgizstan, where there was zero involvement of the government in the feminists’ protest action. Karimli concludes that the policies of Ilham Aliyev in the area of democracy resulted in Azerbaijan further lagging behind even some Central Asian states. The media, monitoring the feminists’ rally, reports that more than 25 women were detained, registered with the police, and then released. Rabiyya Mammadova was forcefully taken out of the taxi she was in, put in another car, taken to police station #37 and beaten up, which left bruises on her neck. She was subsequently taken by ambulance to hospital. The participants noted that the majority of police were women, and their primary task was to suppress and hit protesters, and it looked like a training. Many commented that women who came out to protest domestic violence were mistreated by police. Afghan Mukhtarli in his FB status apologized before all women for the passivity and cowardice of men, who were expediently keeping silence for breadwinner purposes. Tofig Yagublu commented that it was a shame that Ilham Aliyev, who asked permission of Armenians to visit Shusha, did not allow 5-10 women in the city centre to hold an action and sent the police there. Nigar Hezi of Musavat stressed that contrary to its own interests, the government has suppressed the rally, which testifies to its extreme fear. In fact, she argues, they should have created all the conditions for this rally, but she considers that while the government consists of people of “Siyavush type” they would not act rationally. Ordukhan Babirov, an activist in exile, called the suppression of the feminist protest by police “an International Shame”.
Fuad Gahramanli of PFP notes that the issue of “unity of opposition” is brought into circulation again and calls it the “unity trap”, as it is manipulated by the authorities to undermine the true opposition as opposed to the “pocket opposition”, by blaming its failure on the incapacity to unite. He argues that the problem lay in insufficient public resistance, which is turn is explained by the limits on freedoms imposed by the regime.
Economy. The economic expert Samir Aliyev gives statistics on the import and sale of cars in the country. In 2000, before the flow of oil revenues, of each 10 cars 9 was produced in Russia; however, after 2019, of each 5 cars only 2 were from Russia. In 20 years, the number of cars has increased 4 times, and while in the past only 1 in 50 cars were of German production, now it is every 4th vehicle. The expert and politician Gubad Ibadoglu comments on the statement by President Aliyev that the country had “entered the new era – that of transparency and the end of monopolies”. He indicates the data from 2020 on the significant profits of companies belonging to the president and his family, such as in the area of insurance, finance, mobile and transport communication, agriculture, etc. He reminds his followers that the country has left the EITI and has changed its status to passive in the Open Government Partnership. He also reports the largest number of the population’s complaints on corruption is in the area of internal affairs, local governance, social protection, health and municipality. This is based on the official statistics of the Head Office of the Fight with Corruption of the General Prosecutor’s office. Natig Jafarli of REAL criticises by calling it an illogical decision of the government to lower taxes on luxurious items, like gold, brand watches etc, instead of increasing them, as in the other free economies.
Governance. The FB community shares news about arrests in the Nakhichevan republic. Besides the former minister of internal affairs Ahmad Ahmadov, the former education minister Mammad Garibov was also arrested. Meydan TV reports MP Tahir Karimli opposing changes to the Family Code legislation by the recommendation of the UN based on the Istanbul convention, arguing that “our feminists want to eliminate our family traditions”. and that adopting this convention did not stop domestic violence in Turkey. MP Fazil Mustafa spoke in favour of easing quarantine rules, such as opening the highways to the regions, or cancellation of the SMS permissions, as these measures on the contrary create traffic jams and overloaded public transport. MP Ali Masimli argued that after the price of the gasoline was raised to 10 gepiks on the 5th January, consumer market prices have been rising daily. He predicts that monopolists will raise prices for the Novruz Bayram, contrary to the tendencies in free economies, when the prices go down closer to national holidays. He appeals to prevent the rise of prices at the Novruz Holiday. Osmangizi TV broadcasts an interview with prominent Azerbaijani writer Chingiz Guseynov, who argues that Heydar Aliyev, when he came to power in the 1960s, dragged Azerbaijan a hundred years backwards, because any person who has served in the KGB cannot promote the development of the state and nation.
COVID 19. Ilgar Mammadov of REAL quotes a new article by the US author Joel Kotkin, arguing that if people do not resist the COVID-19 quarantine, they will face even worse limitation of their freedoms in the future under the excuse of climate change. Kotkin states that there will be a necessity to impose a strict quarantine from top down under the excuse of climate change, because people do not want it. Nigar Hezi of Musavat reacts with indignation to police surveying people in the shops who do not keep their social distance, while ignoring the overcrowded public transportation. She urges the government to open the metro, so far being closed, which is the main reason of overcrowded buses, and start the vaccination of all citizens against the virus. She adds that the most dangerous virus is the regime of Aliyevs, and that’s why the most important goal is to finish with this virus.