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Center for National and International Studies
The dominating topics in social networks continue to be coronavirus and responses to it internationally and within the country, the fall of the oil price to 28 dollars, arrest in Turkey of the Azerbaijani businessman Mubariz Mansimov, police violence against protesters in front of the Embassy of Turkey in his defence, release of the political prisoner and investigative journalist , who was hijacked by security forces from Georgia in 2018, Afghan Mukhtarli and transfer him to Germany, official and public reaction to the feminist rally on the 8th March, reaction to the speech of Aliyev on occasion of Novruz Bayram.
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev analyses the reasons of the arrest of Azerbaijani businessman Mubariz Mansimov, who was involved in charity activities, supporting Azerbaijani students studying abroad and other. He stresses that the nature of arrest is undoubtedly a political request and the reason is that he lately frequently posted critical comments, legally clashed with the president of SOCAR. The fact, that arrest took place right after the telephone conversation between presidents Erdogan and Aliyev also points to the political causes of this arrest. He also notes that the campaign on discrediting him started in social networks, but the times are different now, and however sinful was the person in the past, once he is arrested, people start sympathising to him. He informs that Mansimov started the hunger strike in spite of just being operated, and refuses to take food, water, or pills.
He , as well as other activists, confirm with appraisal that the government made a decision to give a few 3-4 star hotels for those on quarantine, including just returned Azerbaijani students from Europe.
Gubad Ibadoglu, an economist and the leader of ADR , based on statistics reveals the factors responsible for various degree of risks related to the COVID-19. Among them he lists the following: 1. The level of the health system and medical service 2. The age of the patient 3.the quality of governance and effectiveness of decision making 4. The behaviour of people, ability to be disciplined and follow rules.
He also comments on the sharp decline of the oil price – from 60 dollars during the first two months of this year to 28 dollars in March 2020. But the SOFAZ and Central Bank continue to shoot in the air. This time just in 17 days they took out for sale 1, 85 bln dollars, which means that if the oil price remains lower than 40 dollars SOFAZ will nobe able to support the value of manat with the required 6, 8 bln. dollars. That’s why he concludes that depreciation of manat is inevitable. And this is all because the government in 28 years failed to conduct independent economic, fiscal, credit policies and continued to run economy in the old soviet way. The greatest loss for Azerbaijan in 30 years is not completing the transition to the market economy, not building institutions of self-regulating economy. Azerbaijan simply increases expenditures on economy.
He also reports about the extra-ordinary meeting of the committee of the Cabinet of Ministers to discuss the situation with COVID-19. It informed that to bring Azerbaijani citizens who are abroad to the country they arranged the charter flights. This also concerns the students who got stuck in Budapest and they will also be brought back by the charter flight. Gubad Ibadoglu considers that this is the result of the wide discussion of the issue in FB for last 2 days. He appeals to the FB users to be active and have an influence on the decisions making.
Ali Kerimli expresses similar idea, that at last the government decided to put the citizens on quarantine to the 4 starts hotels, because fearing poor conditions people were hiding their bad state of health, and this is the result of the PFP one for almost a month advocating the improvement of the conditions for the people on quarantine.
Rafig Tamrazov, a civil activist in exile, as representative of DAS ( the diaspora organization) attracts attention to the case of Mubariz Mansimov, who was arrested in Turkey. He reminds, that both LUKOIL and SOCAR sued him in the court. He considers that this is purely political issue, as the ruling family in Azerbaijan does not like any outstanding businessman, in addition who starts to get involved in charity activities. In this persecution they use the connections with the authoritarian neighbours such as Russia, Turkey or Georgia.
He also appeals to other organizations active abroad such as AND and Musavat AKM to join the process of support to Mansimov.
Alesger Ahmedoglu, the lawyer and expert in freedom of speech, posted a critical comment on his timeline about violation of the 163 article of the criminal code by the policemen who were violently dispersing journalists covering the protest action in front of the Embassy of Turkey in Baku against arrest of the businessman Mansimov. He reminded that these policemen have a criminal responsibility for their actions. He called them to respect the laws of the country.
He also comments on the decision of the government not to allow the entrance to the capital of the cars with the plates from the regions. He calls it totally alogical, as “ how does virus distinguish between the city plates numbers from the regional ones ? 80% of all cars are with the city plate numbers. And how virus can pass to the plates series 10, and not to the plates with series 02? One should think with one’s head, the head!”
Altay Geyushov in connection with the virus speculates about the discipline and social distance of Azerbaijanis, such as capacity stand just behind the person in the queue, not cling to him/her, or not to look at the screen of the bank machine while somebody is withdrawing cash from it.
He also jokingly addresses the vice-president and wife of the president Mehriban Aliyeva.. “ Dear Mehriban khanim, we in many respects were very naïve. We thought that the absolute monarchy, feudalism, dynastic transfer of power were left behind in the middle ages. But you proved, that no, that the inferior archaic thinking is still alive and is an obstacle to the development of humanity, with respect — your subject”
Gozel Bayramli of PFP ironically comments that Aslan Ismayilov, the lawyer, should also be put on quarantine as a sick person, because he expresses very strange ideas, such as Mubariz Mansimov, Ali Hasanov and Ali Kerimli were plotting anti -government coups-d e’tats.
Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR announces the updated price of Azerbaijani oil – 25.02 dollars and warns about the damage to Azerbaijan economy from the fall of the oil price. He informs that only this year Russia will lose 55 bln dollars of the oil export, but what about Azerbaijan. He considers that those who used to sell oil by the high prices , including Russia, difficult times are ahead.
He stresses that at the moment the oil price is around 25 dollars, which means that Azerbaijan oil income is close to zero. And if the price will fall below 20$ this will lead to losses for Azerbaijan. He reminded that in 2019 Azerbaijan has produced daily 535 thousand barrel of oil from Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field.
He also reports that Canadian government has given 82 bln dollars aid to the families and business. It also put a moratorium on the credit debts and tax payments in the country. Earlier the US government made a decision to give 1, 3 tr. Dollars as an aid package to the families and businessmen. The Canadian government also declared a moratorium on students’ fees for 6 months.
The journalist Seymour Hezi appeals to the citizens to follow the rules f behaviour during the epidemy and reduce the communication between the city and the regions. “ It is better to be patient this Holiday ( Novruz Bayram) to be able to celebrate the next ones!”
Ali Kerimli of PFP suggests the series of urgent measures to defend population from the virus epidemy, based on international experience, including giving an aid package for the population and business. This list is widely shared on FB.
Altay Geyushov states, that one trait should be definitely changed in national psychology- not the older ones should mentor the younger ones, but the other way around- the younger ones should teach the older ones and on general all those who are bearers of these views, otherwise, the older ones will make the younger as unhappy as they were themselves.
The activists reacted with indignation to the speech of the president Aliyev regarding coronavirus epidemy on the occasion of the Novruz Bayram. He called the true opposition who refused to have a fake dialogue with the authorities the “5th column”, “traitors”, “sold off “and other. Tofig Yagublu comments, that it looks like to release political prisoners Ilham Aliyev should catch the virus himself, because when we ask for it- he does not understand.
Khadija Ismayil responds to the official speech of president Aliyev in a few points:
-Mister president, the 5th column is the corruption headed by yourself and your family
-The health system which you have been robbing for years now vulnerable before the virus
-The person, who was freed from quarantine by the call from your administration before dying passed the virus to all the medical staff.
-The executive structures of the headed by you government are demanding money from the businessmen for disinfection.
-The citizens are afraid to use services of the health system which was destroyed during yours and your father’s rule.
— The eliminated by you civil society totally incapable to monitor and participate in fight with corruption in dealing with virus
— People do not rely on any information in the created by you the atmosphere of mistrust
— People are relying on mystic or religious forces because you deprived them of trust to the civil structures
-The destroyed by you education system makes people turn to the superstitions and fanatism
-Suppression by you of secular opposition pushed people towards the radical groups.
— If you did not destroy independent media, then people would be more informed in their more responsible behavior , rather than relying on sources of Nigush, Nabat and Sayka ( Azerbaijani female names)
— The main virus which made us vulnerable to any threat is yourself and your regime.
The fight with the threat should start with yourself.