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This week marks the first anniversary of the Second Karabakh War, which resulted in bringing the vast majority of the region under the control of Azerbaijan with a death toll of over five thousand and thousands of injured people. While Baku residents celebrated Victory Day on the streets with fireworks on Monday, Azerbaijani activists and public figures reacted to the outcomes of the war on the eve of its anniversary.
According to activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev “as a result of last year’s war, our territorial integrity was not restored, and the separatist armed forces were not withdrawn from the country.” On the contrary, said Hajiyev, “the armed forces of the Russian Federation, a foreign state, were brought into the country illegally, and today those forces have erected a monument to a Russian soldier.” Hajiyev concluded his post with positive but rather cautious notes: The day will come when the conflict will be resolved, there will be peace, and our territorial integrity will be ensured. However, until then, the public should not be deceived and relieved. No matter what anyone says, the conflict has not been resolved, and our territorial integrity has not yet been ensured. If before there was one occupier, now there are two occupying forces.”
Chairman of the Democracy and Welfare Party, Gubad Ibadoghlu, also reacted to the outcome of the war and assessed the activities by the government criticizing the lack of transparency. Ibadoghllu stressed that “Aliyev’s visits to Shusha and other territories of Karabakh were always highlighted by the media to serve his propaganda that based on national sentiments, which only he and the government benefited from.” Ibadoghlu’s post continues as follows: During this year, the government became dysfunctional, and official arbitrariness increased, with social security agencies harassing not only ordinary people but also veterans. This year, the Cabinet of Ministers did not hold a meeting in a broad or narrow format, nor did it discuss the socio-economic results of the quarter or the year. This year was marked by growing corruption, the revealing of London properties, and rising prices. It was a year of lies, deception, and flattery. This year, the people endured all these, honored the martyrs, patiently completed the first year of the post-war period, but I do not believe that the people will be as tolerant of the oppression and the oppressors as they were last year. Therefore, the government must stop playing with national sentiments, should not rely on oil prices, start reforms, deal with internal issues and the economy. Otherwise, if the government doesn’t end corruption and monopoly, then the people will end the government itself. History has shown that the people’s protest might be small but is strong, and no force can withstand it.”
Former political prisoner Tofig Yagublu called November 10 when the war ended “as the day when Ilham Aliyev together with Vladimir Putin stole the victory from Azerbaijani Army, preventing its complete victory over the enemy.” Yagublu thinks that as a result of Aliyev’s invitation to the Russian troops, the mountainous part of Karabakh is under double occupation.
Fuad Gahramanli of APFP called this day “National Disappointment Day.” “One year later, it can be said unequivocally that the cessation of offensive operations by the Azerbaijani Army, the signing of a tripartite Declaration at the behest of Putin, and the deployment of the Russian occupation army in Karabakh were the biggest historical mistake against our national interests” added Gahramanli.
In his interview with Meydan TV, Arif Yunus said that Karabakh will face the fate of Crimea: “There is only one winner in this war: Russia. It is not for no reason that that Russian is the state language in Nagorno-Karabakh. Earlier, the budget of Nagorno-Karabakh was decided by Armenia, and the Armenian army was in charge of the defense of Nagorno-Karabakh. But now, all these are under Russia’s control. Russian passports will be distributed to the population of the region. Tomorrow if Azerbaijan will say that there is no need for Russian peacekeepers, but the people of Karabakh say there is a need, then Karabakh will face the fate of Crimea. Russia has wanted to establish a base in Azerbaijan since 1994. “
Chairman of APFP Ali Karimli questioned the outcomes of the November Declaration of the last year and asked whether the victory was in favor of Azerbaijan or Russia. Karimli wrote: “Russia won as a result of the November Declaration. After 28 years, Russia brought back its army to Azerbaijan. The army Russia sent to Karabakh was of 2000 soldiers, but now it increased to 7,000-8,000. Moreover, Russia has strengthened its position in Armenia and sent troops to both Zangazur and the Armenian border. That is why Russia celebrates this day as a real holiday. They held ceremonial events in Khankendi to reward 200 Russian soldiers. Today is the day when the deserved victory of our army was stolen from Azerbaijan. Due to the fact that our victory is stolen, now 4% of our lands, including Khankendi and Khojaly, are still under occupation. More than 10,000 Armenian militants remain in the occupied territories of Karabakh.”
Azadliq newspaper reports that a monument to Russian servicemen was erected in Khankendi, and a memorial park dedicated to Russian “peacekeepers” was opened. The opening ceremony was held on the occasion of the first anniversary of the deployment of Russian “peacekeepers” in Karabakh. The first commander of the Russian forces, Rustam Muradov, also attended the ceremony. In addition to the monument in the park, which symbolizes “peacekeeping” servicemen, there are ten prominent figures of Russian history and culture – Alexander Nevsky, Denis Davidov, Mikhail Lermontov, Gavril Derzhavin, Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Karamzin, Lev Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Vasily Shukshin and Mikhail Sholokhov. Moreover, the first Russian Orthodox Church was also opened.
Azad Soz shared the concerns of veterans and mothers of martyrs who made complaints at the President Administration but were forcibly removed from there by the police. The family of the Karabakh veteran, who was turned away at the President’s Administration, later went to protest in front of the American embassy.
Financial interests over the environment. Sevinj Osmangizi reported that Azerbaijan did not join the climate conference in Glasgow – COP26 giving a clear message that it is not committed to mitigating climate change and protecting the environment. At the COP26 climate summit, the participating countries made a commitment to stop public financing for new fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of the next year.
Mehman Huseynov reacted to the news made by Public Television (ITV) on the occasion of Victory Day. The Public Television reported that the six buildings in London would be lighted in the colors of the Azerbaijani flag in commemoration of Azerbaijan’s Victory. Responding to the news with sarcasm, Huseynov wrote that “these poor people don’t know that London also belongs to Azerbaijan!” Huseynov continued his post: We transfer millions of dollars to London and feed the British people. Of course, London would support us. Not only six buildings in London but the whole city should be painted in the color of the Azerbaijani flag. The buildings illuminated in the colors of the Azerbaijani flag are ours, not someone else’s.”
This week is also marked with the news of political prisoner Saleh Rustamli, who has started a hunger strike in protest against his unlawful arrest. His hunger strike raised concerns about his life. Blogger and investigative journalist Mehman Huseynov demanded freedom for Rustamli, saying that during the First Karabakh War, Saleh Rustamli went to war as the chief executive of the Gadabay region and participated as a commander. Rustamli was not released, although the government made amnesty recently. Huseynov called on everyone to share the case of Rustamli, at least to help create a public opinion.
Saleh Rustamli said he would continue his hunger strike until his release or death. Activists and journalists including Ali Karimli, Khadija Ismayil, Arif Hajili, Nigar Hezi, Gubad Ibadoglu demanded the immidate release of Rustamli.
Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli reports that Malik Rzayev, who was arrested after being deported from Germany, had been tortured. Malik Rzayev was abducted on October 25 in Haji Zeynalabiddin Tagiyev settlement by civil police. At the police station, they made Rzayev sign a statement under intolerable torture. According to the statement, Rzayev allegedly bought the drug from a person named Rauf, who was later pronounced dead. Although Rzayev was arrested on October 25, he was not allowed to meet with his lawyer. After the traces of torture on Rzayev’s body disappeared, his lawyer Nemat Karimli was allowed to see him today.
Arif Hajili shared a post on FB in which he informed his followers that after hacker attacks on his account, he managed to regain access and recover his profile. However, Hajili mentioned that after recovering his account, a post he wrote yesterday demanding the release of Saleh Rustamli has been removed. Hajili shared the deleted post once again, calling the arrest of Rustamli an example of “a grave lawlessness and injustice.”
The minister of Social Problems who is in charge of depriving citizens of their rights. Reacting to the ongoing debates around social issues, Lawyer Agil Layij said that “Sahil Babayev is not the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, but the Minister of Social Problems and he is in charge of depriving citizens of their rights to pensions and benefits.”
Gubad Ibadoghlu objected to the Minister of Finance, who in his speech at the parliament argued that the recent price increase is “the negative impact of rising prices in the world on Azerbaijan.” Ibadoghlu asked if gas, water, energy are locally supplied, what has the global rise in prices got to do with the rising prices in Azerbaijan?
Rufat Safarov also pointed out the rampant social issues criticizing the government for creating a false image of development. Referring to the minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Safarov said that they talk about economic success, about improving people’s livelihoods, yet in reality, they exaggerate minor improvements and give fake statistics.