Center for National and International Studies
“Russia is interested in starting a new war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in order to divert international attention from Ukraine.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
The investigation into the murder of journalist Avaz Hafizli has been concluded. At the Baku Court of Grave Crimes, the prosecutor requested ten years and six months of imprisonment for Hafizli’s cousin Amrulla Gulaliyev, who was accused of murder. The journalist’s brother considered the punishment requested by the prosecutor to be unnecessarily severe. Hafizli‘s mother filed a written request to the court that she was not a complainant. Avaz Hafizli was also known as an LGBTQ+ activist. He participated in protests about the rights of LGBTQ+ people, and activists believe that the reason for his murder was that Hafizli belonged to the LGBTQ+ community.
Abish Ismayilov, a 22-year-old veteran of the Second Karabakh War, told Meydan TV about the arbitrariness he faced at Sabirabad District Central Hospital, where he worked as a security guard. According to Ismayilov, the deputy director for financial affairs, Bayram Mikayilov, is biased against him because Ismayilov did not pay bribes when getting a job at the hospital.
Punhan Karimli, a member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), who lived as an immigrant in Germany for almost three years, was deported to Azerbaijan in November 2021, and was sentenced to six years in prison. The activist was found guilty of articles 234.4.1 and 234.4.3 of the Criminal Code (acquiring, transporting, and storing a large number of drugs for the purpose of sale). In his last court hearing, Karimli said that these accusations were false and that he was arrested because of his political opinion. He said that he had not been a drug user, and there were no drugs on him when he was detained. He said that he was punished for his critical views against the government and for his participation in the protests held against the violation of human rights in Azerbaijan while he was in Germany.
A criminal case has also been initiated against the activists Samir Ashurov and Ziya Ibrahimli, who were deported from Germany, and detention measures have been taken against them.
Another member of APFP Alizamin Salayev, was sentenced to 30 days of administrative imprisonment.
Alikram Khurshudov, adviser to the head of the Musavat Party, was sentenced to 30 days of administrative imprisonment. Khurshudov was one of the active participants of the rally “Open the land borders!” held on July 20. Although he was detained during the rally, he was later released. Aziz Mamiyev, another activist of the Musavat party, was sentenced to 30 days of detention after the rally.
Chairperson of the Musavat Party Arif Hajili said that repressive measures against the Musavat Party members continue. “The government, which declares that it is carrying out democratic reforms, continues to show its true authoritarian face by increasing repression,” said Hajili.
Mahir Azimov, a member of the Muslim Union Movement, was arrested and sentenced to 3 months of detention on drug charges. At first, he was sentenced to house arrest, but later, due to the prosecutor’s protest, a pre-trial detention measure was chosen for him. Activist Vugar Rasul was also sentenced to four months imprisonment on drug charges.
Activist Elnur Hasanov, who organized an action in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, was arrested. A few days before his arrest, Hasanov made a statement on social networks that he was tortured during detention at 22nd Police Department Nasimi District. According to Hasanov, when they found out that his brother was martyred during the war, the police officers used insulting words about the martyrs. For a month, Hasanov appealed to the relevant institutions with the request to punish those police officers. Since there was no result, he made a statement on social media and appealed to the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Vilayat Eyvazov, and asked for a meeting. He also asked the families of martyrs and veterans to join him.
Military blogger Tofig Shahmuradov, accused of disseminating information that harms the reputation of the Azerbaijani army and is prohibited by law, was arrested and sentenced to a month of imprisonment. Shahmuradov lately has been sharing and writing critical posts about the army generals exposing their cattle farms. A day before his arrest Shahmuradov shared the following post on his Facebook page: “Instead of conducting their duties as generals and building an army, there are people whose job is to help the animals mate and give birth. Their activities have been exposed, and I hope the necessary authorities will take the necessary measures.”
The former deputy head of the State Security Service of Georgia, Soso Gogashvili, said that journalist Afgan Mukhtarli was abducted from Tbilisi by order of prime minister Ivanishvili, the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream Party. According to Gogashvili, Afghan Mukhtarli was detained in Tbilisi, tortured, forcibly brought to the border, 10,000 euros were put in his pocket, and handed over to Azerbaijan.
Government, Transparency, Corruption
A few days after a critical program about the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) was aired on the state television channel AzTv, the ANAS was dissolved on Thursday, July 28. The name of the Ministry of Education was changed to the Ministry of Science and Education. Scientific institutions and organizations within the ANAS were subordinated to the Ministry of Science and Education. Chairperson of NCDF Jamil Hasanli reacted to the decision of the government, saying that without improving the budget for science and education, the changes will not help to solve the issues. Hasanli wrote: Setting new tasks for the academy will be enough. It is necessary to allocate a normal budget. What changes could have happened without it? If ANAS does not have money to purchase access to the academic journals published abroad and if its members can’t afford trips for scientific missions, what kind of science can we talk about? If the Academy is in dire straits, it hasn’t happened just recently. The father-son Aliyevs created this situation during their 53-year rule. Now they are transferring power from regional bases to family bases to create a private family regime. The academy is also a part of it.”
According to the pro-governmental news sites, the Central Election Commission plans to hold a meeting. Although the agenda of the meeting is not disclosed, the opposition parties argue that the government is planning to hold snap elections. Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu said if the government hopes that it can rig the next snap election, it will be proved wrong. “In authoritarian societies, if the government calls for snap elections on its own initiative and not as a result of pressure from the public, then it has an insidious plan”, said Yagublu.
Journalist Habib Muntazir reported that within a week, four soldiers of the Azerbaijani army guarding the borders were accused and detained with 95 kg of drugs in Jabrayl. Recently, seven soldiers in total were detained while trying to traffic drugs from Iran to Azerbaijan.
Representative of the environmental movement Ecofront environmental activist Javid Gara said that in Kalbajar region, a commander of the army was involved in poaching (illegal hunting) bezoar goats, which are listed in the Red Book of the extinct animals. According to the activist, there are several cases of violations of the law, and a criminal case should be opened. According to the Criminal Code, illegal hunting is forbidden and can result in imprisonment.
The Tariff (Price) Council of the Republic of Azerbaijan has announced an increase in the price of medicines. Although drugs are brought into the country by companies working in the private sector, the prices are regulated by the government. Economist Samir Aliyev commented on the price increase on his Facebook account and wrote that the price of medicines has increased by 10-15% on average, depending on the type of the medicines.
Meydan TV reports that in 2021, 944 people renounced their citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In 2020 561 people gave up on their Azerbaijani citizenship. A year before, in 2019, 449 applications for renunciation of the citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan were registered.
Member of the APFP Fuad Gahramanli said that a new war between Azerbaijan and Armenia seems to be more in Russia’s interests at the moment. Gahramanli wrote: “Russia is more interested in starting a new war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in order to divert international attention from Ukraine, to force the West to renegotiate with it on a new war, and to strengthen its position in the South Caucasus. This time, on the contrary, most likely, by returning some territories to Armenians, Russia will be interested in strengthening its weakened position in Armenia. Therefore, in the present case, the war scenario is in no way in the interests of Azerbaijan and may cause us to face additional losses.”
July 29, 2022