Center for National and International Studies
“The Declaration of Alliance signed by Ilham Aliyev two days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could create not only political but also serious economic problems for Azerbaijan.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Niyameddin Ahmadov, the bodyguard of the chairman of the Popular Front Party, Ali Karimli, has started a hunger strike in prison. Ahmadov was sentenced to 13 years in jail on trumped-up charges. After announcing his hunger strike, he was immediately placed in solitary confinement, known as a torture cell. Ahmadov told his family that the reason for the hunger strike was that he had been treated inhumanely and discriminated against since he was admitted to prison. Ahmadov is recognized as a political prisoner who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his political views. Ahmadov’s family said that they were not allowed to see him.
Another political prisoner, a member of APFP Elkhan Aliyev, who was detained for 30 days on false charges, is also on a hunger strike. Aliyev informed his friends from APFP about this over the phone.
According to one of the families of the detainees from Prison number 12 of the Penitentiary Service of the Ministry of Justice, the detention conditions in prison are poor and damaging. The food provided by the state is of poor quality, but there are no conditions for prisoners to be provided with food at their own expense. According to the family members, they have to pay extra to have a fridge or heater in prison.
Governance and corruption.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that during the telephone conversation between Sergey Lavrov and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov, the implementation of the Mutual Provisions on the Alliance was signed by the Presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on February 22 was discussed. The sides also exchanged views on future steps within the “3 + 3” regional platform (Azerbaijan – Armenia – Georgia + Russia – Iran – Turkey). Chairperson of ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu argued that “most likely, the main purpose of Lavrov‘s call was to remind the Azerbaijani side, in particular, of the commitments we made in the article 43 of “Declaration of Alliance” and to encourage their implementation, as well as to accelerate its ratification in parliament.” According to Ibadoghlu, the implementation of this declaration can lead Azerbaijan to the Eurasian Economic Union in these turbulent times, “which could be one of Putin‘s main plans for Azerbaijan in the post-war period to reduce the impact of sanctions, if Putin is lucky enough to stay in power.” Ibadoghlu added that the Declaration of Alliance signed by Ilham Aliyev two days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could create not only political but also serious economic problems for Azerbaijan.
Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu shared a similar opinion arguing that Aliyev’s only hope is that Putin will continue supporting him against the west. Yagublu wrote: I think that Ilham Aliyev is aware that on the day of the military aggression against Ukraine, he signed an alliance agreement with the fascist Putin, and he knows that there is no way back. All he hopes is that Putin‘s military power is not exhausted and that the West and Ukraine will have to come to an agreement with him to stop the massacres. Of course, the terms of the agreement will not satisfy either side, but one of the conditions agreed by Putin will be “Lukashenko and Aliyev stay with me, you do not touch them.” He has all his hopes on this condition and is looking forward to that moment. It will not happen! Glory to Ukraine !!!” Yagublu also criticized Aliyev for his answer to president Biden’s congratulatory Nowruz message. Yagublu wrote: Ilham Aliyev, a puppet of fascist Putin, did not want to miss the opportunity to write a letter of thanks to US President Joe Biden for the formal congratulatory letter sent to the leaders of the countries celebrating Novruz. The letter is an example of hypocrisy and fraud. “Today, the Republic of Azerbaijan is a state pursuing an independent policy based on the will and interests of its people,” the letter reads. The will of the people is with Ukraine, who are you with, Ilham Aliyev?”
The Democracy 1918 movement announced its political program in its recent meeting on the occasion of its anniversary. The movement has stated that they are a left-wing organization. Numbers of members left the organization in protest of the change of its name and political inclination. The Democracy 1918 movement also celebrated its 9th anniversary at the event.
Mehman Huseynov reacted to the social media comments on the new president of Turkmenistan. Huseynov wrote: I do not understand why we Azerbaijanis laugh at Turkmenistan? Where do we live? Is the situation different here? We are laughing at our own misery.” Last week president Sardar Berdimuhamedov swore as Turkmenistan’s new president taking over the power from his father. Azerbaijani social media users reacted to the transition of power from father to son in the authoritarian Central Asian state with sarcasm, arguing that the first country to do so among all post-soviet countries was Azerbaijan.
The war in Ukraine. Anti-War protests
Azadliq newspaper reports that an ethnic Azerbaijani teacher in Russia was dismissed for his anti-war views. In one of the schools in Moscow, teachers were gathered and instructed on how to explain the situation in Ukraine to students. Dissatisfied with this, a geography teacher named Kamran Manafli shared an anti-war post on Ukraine on his Instagram after the meeting. The headteacher of the school where Manafli worked called and demanded that he delete the post, otherwise, he would be fired. Manafli refused to delete the post and was fired soon after. His move has received great support from Russian students. Manafli later wrote on his social media platform: “You have to live in a way that does not go against your conscience. I was recently told at school that “we can’t have a position that is different from the official, state position.” The point is, I have my own opinion. And not only me, but many teachers have their own opinion. You know, this does not coincide with the position of the state. I don’t want to be a mirror of state propaganda. I’m proud that I’m not afraid to write about it. I’m proud to be a teacher! My conscience is clear. I love everyone who has been, is, and will be my student.”
Chief of General Staff of the Azerbaijani Army Karim Valiyev met with Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Land Forces Alexei Kim. According to the Azerbaijani side, two important issues were discussed at the meeting: the operational conditions in the area where the “peacekeepers” are located and the withdrawal of separatist Armenian armed forces from Karabakh. Member APFP Fuad Gahramanli argued that “most likely, Russia wants to deploy a significant part of its military contingent in Karabakh to Ukraine.” Gahramanli also added that Russia might request military assistance from Azerbaijan. He wrote: Why should Russia, which seeks help from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, not ask for military help from a country that has signed an alliance declaration? Most likely, this was one of the main purposes of the Russian general’s visit to Baku. However, it does not seem convincing that the Azerbaijani side will agree to this request in the current international context. Because in this case, Azerbaijan would be a target of international sanctions, putting itself in a similar position with Belarus. In this case, the Russian general may try to impose on Azerbaijan the costs of maintaining Russian troops in Karabakh, which are increasingly depleted of resources due to sanctions, in order not to return empty-handed. Because Russia is currently weakened militarily and economically enough to use any potential resources it has.”
Economic and Social Situation
A war veteran, a resident of Garachala settlement in Salyan region, Suleyman Dadashov, told Meydan TV that despite his numerous complaints and appeals to the respective government bodies, he was not granted the presidential stipend he was awarded with. Dadashov said: “I spend my disability benefits on travel to places where I go in search of justice. Because my medicines are at the expense of the state, they give the cheapest and those of the lowest quality. I came back disabled from the war, knocked on the doors for years to receive the pension, but I still could not fully get it. I fought when I was young, now I am getting older, but I still can’t get what the state promised to give.” Suleyman Dadashov has participated in defense of Aghdam, Aghdara, Fizuli, and Jabrayil regions in 1992 during the first Karabakh war. He was wounded in the fighting that year, and in 1994, while fighting in the village of Jojug-Marjanli in Jabrayil, he contracted malaria, which was widespread among soldiers. In October 1996, the disease worsened and turned into tuberculosis. In 1997, he was diagnosed with chronic bronchial tuberculosis. He first applied to government agencies for a veteran ID card, disability benefits, and in 2017 he was announced to be awarded a Presidential Pension for the protection of territorial integrity, though he received only part of it.
Two Azerbaijani soldiers have been missing for more than 20 days after disappearing in Lachin. Azadlig newspaper reports that soldiers of a military unit in the territory of Lachin, Mammadov Farid and Allahverdiyev Firdovsi (both were born in 2003), were reported missing by their families. The soldiers’ parents appealed to the Red Cross but were told that the Defense Ministry must confirm the information that the soldiers had been either captured or missing. The last time the soldiers communicated was 20 days ago when they informed their commander that they had lost their direction in the woods, and no news has been received from them since then.
Armenians living in Karabakh complain that the natural gas supply has been suspended by the Azerbaijani side for more than ten days. The gas supply was first cut off on March 8 and then restored on March 19 in the region where about 120,00 ethnic Armenians live. However, the gas supply was interrupted again from March 21, leaving households without heating amid unprecedented cold weather and heavy snow. According to the Armenian side, the gas supply to the part where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is located was completely cut off due to the intervention of the Azerbaijani side. The press service of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has denied the allegation calling it “baseless.”
March 25, 2022