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Center for National and International Studies
Post-conflict situation. The FB community is increasingly concerned about news of Russian peacekeepers taking under its control greater territories in Karabagh, the most recent being Gapanli village of Terter region. Previously, as reports Ali Karimli of PFP, Russia‘s peacekeepers have taken under their control strategic heights in Lachin corridor, Shusha and Agdam and now are extending their control in Kelbajar region. Their new monitoring route includes the heights Saridag and Buzdukh and Shaban near Agdaban village. It is stressed that despite this, Ilham Aliyev in his last interview to Russian media highly appraised the activities of Russian peacekeepers, along with announcing his intention to buy Russian weapons. The media calls this process “ Russia expands her zone of occupation in Karabagh”. The official Iran reacted to the interview of president Aliyev to the Anadolu agency about the Iranian military exercise on the borders with Azerbaijan “ as disappointing”. FB users view the reaction of the West to the Karabagh war 2nd as a double standards approach. Ilkin Rustamzade notes, that when those who supported all sort of armed resistance such as PKK in Turkey, guerrillas in Vietnam, ETA in Spain, or IRA in Ireland condemn Azerbaijan’s attempt to liberate its occupied territories – it is not the humanism, but hypocrisy. Jamil Hasanli reports publication “ The storm in the Cauacasus” dedicated to the 44 day war in Karabagh in 2020, edited by Ruslan Pukhov. This publication is distinguished by having articles only by Russian, Armenian and Western authors and not a single one from Azerbaijan. The introduction is written by the former deputy minister of defence of Russia, chief of the Army Headquarters Yurii Baliyevskii, while articles are authored by Douglas Barrie, Georgi Derlugian, Alexander Iskandarian, Dmitri Trenin, Sergey Markedonov, Anton Lavrov etc. The electronic media reports that Putin at his meeting with Erdogan touched upon the issue of Karabagh. Osmangizi TV experts discuss the characteristics of the current situation- while the lands were returned, the separatism was not eradicated. The activist in exile Ramis Yunus wrote an open letter addressed to the former Ambassador of Norway in Azerbaijan Steinar Gil, where he asks him to be more objective in assessment of the parties to the Karabagh conflict. The Azerbaijan People’s Party (chair – ex-prime minister Panah Huseyn) issued a statement in connection with the anniversary of the patriotic war of 2020. The statement calls the international community and organizations to condemn the “ fascist and terrorist” policies of Armenia, which are the main obstacle to the peace, stability and justice in the region.
Events in Georgia. Activists and journalists comment on the scandal caused by the declared by Saakashvili intention to return to Georgia and reaction to it by official Tbilisi. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev ironically notes, that if Saakashvili when in office (like Aliyev) put the opposition in prison, monopolized all economy, violated all rights and freedoms, he would sustain power successfully until now and nobody would dare opening a criminal case against him.
Events in Armenia. The Fb community shares and comments on the news from Armenia, that ex-minister of defence David Tonoyan was detained after searches in his house. The searches also were conducted in the houses of the other high ranking generals, who are accused in bribes during purchases of low quality aviation weapons.
Human Rights and Liberties. The Fb community is alerted about the 8th day of hunger strike of Niyamaddin Ahmadov. The women members of the Popular Front Party staged a protest in the center of Baku city in his support. The FB readers share information, that he was not allowed to meet with his lawyer Zibeyda Zakariyyeva. The issue of a high sentence read to PFP member Niyamaddin Ahmadov continue to concern FB community. Many considers this will only worsen the reputation of the regime internationally and aggravate its relations with society. Ali Karimli warns about new threat to life of Ahmadov, who was earlier transferred to the prison hospital allegedly because of COVID-19. He reports that in fact Ahmadov was not infected by COVID-19, so they all are highly concerned by reasons of his transfer to the prison hospital. The Azadlyg newspaper reports detention of a PFP member Asim Agayev from the Orta Mugan Village of Saatli region for 10 days after the dispersal of the local citizens’ protests there against the problems with the water supply. The other PFP members were also threatened by arrest. Seymur Hezi of PFP memberscomments that it seems the authorities launched the attack on the Popular Front Party all over republic. The sources also report clashes with the police, and injuries among the protesters. The activists discuss the controversial issue of detention of the mullahs who say prayers during the commemoration ceremony at the martyrs’ cemetery. The investigative journalist Khadija Ismayil comments that detention of the women-mullahs is a violation of the freedom of expression, but the families of martyrs should be explained that they should not give the floor to the Iranian agents at the graves of their family members. The green movement activist Javid Gara considers that mullahs who make anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish statements in their prayers are most probably Iranian agents and he does not mind if they are detained and investigated. He argues, that those who stand for their rights and the violation of freedom of speech in such case, should rather care about daily violations of basic rights of the citizens: for clean air, water, food etc. The FB community actively discusses the interview of Ilham Aliyev to the French TV channel24 where he responds to the question of the journalist about the violent attack on Mahammad Mirzali. Ilham Aliyev called the Reporters without Borders “biased “, denied any responsibility for the attack and reported cessation of all connections with this organization. The activists continue the topic of ethnic minorities. Seymur Hezi of PFP comments that Azerbaijani people are known for their openness and tolerance to the ethnic diversity and that it is unacceptable to destroy such environment. He states, that all the ethnic and religious groups living in Azerbaijan are equal and the society does its utmost to provide for their safe and prosperous life. The National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) made a statement which condemns the continuation of repressions against political opponents. It attracts attention to the political prisoners – opposition activists and government critics, who received prison terms on trumped up charges – Niyamaddin Ahmadov, Alizamin Salayev, Agil Humbatov, Lachin Veliyev, – or were pressured, threatened and blackmailed like Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, Jamil Hasanli.
Social issues. Meydan TV reports problems with houses affected every time when it is intense raining in the city, showing the video of submerging house 14, Dilgam Kishvari str. In Sabunchu district of Baku city. The activists post critical comments about incapacity of the government to resolve the most basic problems of the city encountering rather routine issue of not too heavy rains. Natig Jafarli of REAL argues that rain always washes away the “ make-up” of Baku. He asserts that the only way out is to have elected mayors of the cities and regions. They contrast the government’s inability to prevent damaging effect of rains to its intention to build “ smart cities”. Azad Soz posts the video of yet another angry war hero discrediting the attitude of the state and authorities to the war participants. Bahruz Mammadov emotionally tells a devastating story of his persecution, war participation, extreme poverty, absence of any care and attention of the state to his problems. The government has made the social policy towards single mothers or fathers stricter- while before social benefits were given to the single mothers/father with 3 children, the new amendment allows it only to those with 5 children and more. People share the exceedingly poor living conditions of the family of the war martyr – colonel-lieutenant from Barda Mehman Gambarov.
Events in and around Afghanistan. Afghan community of Azerbaijan explain on Meydan TV why their compatriots had to leave their country as a result of arrival of Taliban to power. The first wave of refugees to Azerbaijan in 1990s arrived was similarly due to Taliban’s coming to power at that time. Ahad Mammadli of Ag Party on his timeline gives an information about Taliban, its history and its leaders, as according to him, official Baku will soon have to establish relations with Kabul. He stresses that Taliban is closest to Pakistan which is a second important (after Turkey) ally of Azerbaijan. He argues that during the US–Afghanistan war Taliban allegedly did not shoot towards Azerbaijani or Turkish military.
Governance, economy, corruption. FB community shares and ironically comments on the photos of crowds of students trying to get to the University building due to the checking of the vaccination certificates at the entrance. The same procedure in what the Fb users call “primitive way” of checking the vaccination passports is going on at the other high schools. In regards governance, the activists note, that Ilham Aliyev does not care of Russian peacekeepers creeping occupation of Karabagh, the protests of Saatli citizens against shortage of water, high sentences in prison on trumped up charges of N. Ahmadov and A. Salayev. He is focused on the oil price rise in the world markets up to 80 dollars for barrel, which means that he will be able to take out a lot of money to the offshore accounts. The investigative journalist Mehman Huseynov reports that the son of the late Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov, who was managing the Formula-1 rallies in Baku, spent 10 m. manat to purchase two yachts in France. Arif Rahimov also gives these yachts for rent charging 200 thousand manat per week. Irony is dominating the comment by the academic Altay Geyushov, when he suggests the FB readers not to be surprised, as not only late Azad Rahimov was transferring all the budget funds for the big sport events to the company of his son. Similar transfers were made by the other ministers too. He argues, that since people did not object it in time, their demand of the child benefits are meaningless, as the possible funds all were misappropriated by the bureaucrats with people’s silence and “ blessing”. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev continues the topic on how unknown companies are winning tenders of a few million manat and importance not of the company’s capital, or of available debts, but kinship between the company’s owner and a bureaucrat.