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Center for National and International Studies

 

FB Digest@VoxPOPULI

30.03.2020

The FB users share and comment on reaction of the government to coronavirus crisis, arrests and pressure on activists, the situation with students in quarantine in Nakhichevan, economic consequences of epidemics in the region and in the country, delay with decision on the aid package to the population, arrest of two more activists.

The journalist Nurlan Libre reminds that few days ago it was reported  that the students who came from Turkey faced police violence in the quarantine place in Nakhichevan. The information which was posted by the activist Rustam Ismayilbayli  reveals that the students are kept in one of the Internal Troops barracks. The student called Umud , who made a video about the conditions there, was isolated by police and beaten up by clubs. The tortures  stopped only after Umud started to vomit. The most recent updates report that a few dozens of students have a fever and a soar throat while in quarantine.

Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR writes that he is not concerned of being in the US which is now on the 1st place in the world by the number of infected, because he trusts its medical services, drugs and nutrition. That’s why he is more concerned of Azerbaijan, where people are much more defenseless and there is no trust in doctors, medicine, nutrition. He also stresses that the government is delaying all the urgent measures, as if they do not notice what is happening in the world. Similarly, people, in spite being urged to stay at home, do not stay, but it is understandable as many earn for subsistence on the daily basis. He contrasts it to the decision of the US government to make direct transfers to the families, whose individual annual income lower than 75 thousand,  and  that of two- lower than 150,000 starting from the 6th of April to every family member older than 17 years 1.200 dollars, under 17 years- 500 dollars. If only Azerbaijani authorities transferred 0,5  of the minimum salary — 125 manat per person, people would stay at home and not put their  own and the whole society lives under risks.

Yadigar Sadyghli of Musavat comments on the situation with release of prisoners. While he praises the release of 200 prisoners who had only 3 months left to their term expiry, he states that this is not sufficient. He urges the government to release all the political prisoners, and apply fair justice to Tofig Yagublu.

Seymur Hezi updates his followers on the situation with the arrested Tofig Yagublu. He reports that all the posts of Tofig Yagublu from his FB page were deleted and that they are waiting explanation from Ehsan Zahidov. He also informs that by their request the FB admin had frozen his account and nobody except for himself ( upon his release) will be able to post anything on his timeline.

He also shares the post by Ali Kerimli that the Helsinki Commission of the US Congress has a message for Ilham Aliyev. Congressmen Chris Smith and James McGovern  expressed their protest against the arrest of Tofig Yagublu.

Gubad Ibadoglu informs the readers that the governor of NY Cuomo is conducting campaign to acquire additional  30, 000  oxygen support devices. He asks the question does anyone know what is their demand and availability in Azerbaijan? He continues, that this the government obliges to report the situation to the people. By police pressure or self- censorship the virus will not be eliminated. He urges the government to come out to the people and answer all the questions which are matter of concern for the population.

He also attracts attention to the issue of dormitories in the context of epidemics. In Europe, he asserts, due to the pandemics, the dormitories are emptied, while in Azerbaijan – Yasamal and Darnagul dorms for IDPs, as well as in Sumgayit BTZ numer 1 dorm should be announced the high risk zones. Because the bathrooms and kitchens are common in these dorms the spread of virus will be speedy. In the BTZ dorm 1 there are 500 people living. He urges the respective organs to take immediate measures – to empty the hostels and accommodate people in hotels and Olympic Centers.

Gubadoglu writes about Canadian experience in regards the pandemics. In addition to 570 dollars as a child benefits they will get additional 300 totalling 870 per child, while additional 1,000 to their parents – totaling 2000 dollars. So the familyof 4 people in Canada will get around 4,000 dollars per month as a compensation from the state. Besides many other benefits and discounts, the government will pay 5000 to each citizen of Canada who got stuck abroad.

Ali Kerimli of PFP states that by capturing Yagublu’s telephone and deleting all the videos and posts on his timeline is another proof, that Yagublu was not arrested for the hooliganism but for his critical posts. Yagublu is the victim of the crime, which was arranged and committed by the authorities, not vice versa.

Yagublu’s daughter and activist  Nigar Hezi names the investigator – Ramil Aliyev, who keeps the telephone of her father. She also reports that her father has not been given the access to the fresh clothes, for the basic hygienic supplies, cannot take a shower for the 6th day already ( since the day of his arrest) and this is at the peak of epidemy! She also informs that on the 27th he was at least allowed to meet his legal defender Elchin Sadigov. He is in the struggling mood, she continues, and sends everyone who stands for his rights – a big gratitude and at last is provided for the basic hygienic means.

The civil activist Parviz Hashimli comments on the REAL members’ release on the second day of its 10 day administrative arrest-“ Ilgar Mammadov calls it success of the negotiations with the government-lets see the continuation” – he concludes.

Yadigar Sadyghli posts the photo of the plastic garbage bags which the local dwellers in Lenkoran city flat building are forced to hand on the courtyard fence, because the authorities did not provide the complex for the garbage bins.

Elchin Mammad, the human rights activist reveals the background of Aysel Mustafayeva who filed complaint against him to the police. He notes, that she has participated in such provocations  previously too. She complaint to the Bandotdel ( the department on fight with the organized crime of the ministry of interior) on the journalist editor of the Criminal.az news portal Anar Mammadov. He suggests that she may have some psychological problems and the authorities are taking an advantage of this  circumstance. He urges human rights defenders, international organizations  and media to keep it under their attention.

Bakhtiyar Hajiyev brings the daily statistics of infected in the country. Yesterday there were 29 more cases, today 43 more cases of infected revealed in Azerbaijan. He also informs that Prince Charles and Boris Johnson also were infected, and the price of oil fell below 25 dollars… “So on which day of April the extra-terrestrials are coming to our planet?”- he asks.

Altay Geyushov shows absurdity of the governance of Azerbaijan. He reports that Poland suggested to share expenses on bringing citizens to their countries. They will send the charter flight with Azerbaijani students while will return carrying the Polish citizens back.  Azerbaijan keeps silence. So the Polish government sends the plane with Azerbaijani citizens to Baku, so to pick up the Polish citizens on their way back. However, the authorities say, that the flight should land in Lenkoran, not in Baku. The Polish side responds that it will land in Baku, as the Polish citizens are there. Azerbaijan reacts that if you were empty, you would land in Baku, but since you are carrying people, they have to be brought to Lenkoran for a quarantine. The polish side is trying to convince them, that this is not a cargo, not a cabbage or potato, these are nice and pretty Azerbaijani students, however, they get a response that for landing the should go only to Lenkoran. As a result, the plane makes a U-turn and returns back to Poland. “ This will end badly, it seems,” — concludes Geyushov.

Many activists and FB users are participating in the e-action in defense of  Tofig Yagublu.

Gozel Bayramli writes the details of taking by force by the police of the phone from Yagublu’s wife in the police department. She says, that Tofig Yagublu is in a good mood and sends everyone his hello. He also considers that depriving him of his phone aimed at deleting the video evidence made by Yagublu himself during the provocation.

Khadija Ismayil shares an investigation by the ESI and OCCRP which explains how and why the Azerbaijan’s ruling regime was buying off the European politicians.

Natig Jafarli writes about effect of epidemics on economy of the countries of the Caucasus. He comments that Georgia, which is highly dependent on tourist industry and service sector of economy, has been hit hard. This was aggravated by the decline of export turnover which is expected by 35%, and national currency steady depreciation. The damage will be long term, but hopefully will be mitigated by the aid package from IMF and WB. In Armenia the aggravating factor is high dependence on Russia’s economy. The closeness of the borders with Iran also hits economy hard. In last 15 days the national currency dram has depreciated from 4,65 to 4,95 against dollar. Most probably, Pashinian will ask for the aid from IMF and WB. When mentioning Azerbaijan problems, he considers that because the government ignored the advises of economists, there will be various problems related to the primitive economic model, which it have followed. This is not just about the decline of the oil price, which remains the main factor, but the absence of the economic and governance institutions what makes the support for the damaged economy difficult. For instance, in most of the countries the Central Banks are pouring money in economy to help it to sustain the crisis, but there are certain mechanisms of that – doing it via support for the auctions, banks, investment funds etc. But our Central Bank does not have those tools, including the corresponding capital.. The economy is so primitive that it is impossible to create sophisticated mechanism for economic support. The following sectors shrank: tourism, where 60 thousand people were occupied, trade and service sector ( 700 thousand people employed)  there is no aid mechanism for these people.3) the social issues- so many people are staying in rented places, but nobody know the real number, as the government put 14% of taxes on rents, so nobody makes official contracts. Natig Jafarli reminded that they have been urging to reduce the taxes on rents to 2 %, so to legalize shadow economy, but nobody listened.4) management problems- the governance is also based on the primitive vertical. In fact the governance gaps in the central authorities should have been compensated by the institute of Mayor, while the gaps of the latter- by the institute of civil society. He concludes, that serious problems are awaiting the country’s economy. The GDP will significantly decrease, the unemployment will grow, the foreign trade will have a negative saldo, there will be increased pressures on national currency – it will not be  impossible to do in one day of what should be done in 27 years . He also lists the urgent measures for now. 1) For 3 months to cancel all payments for the communal services, 2) To cancel interest rates for the consumer and business credits. 3)  Each citizen should receive the transfer of 250 manats ( minimum salary) 4) To declare break from taxes for 6 months for small and medium business 5) There should be discounts on taxes for banks too, so they would not charge interest 6) To create urgently the Investment Bank which would give in the post-virus period credits with very low interest rates to the small and medium business, but only to the real sector of economy for 3 years, 7) As a cost of all this the manat’s depreciation should reach 20%, so we could save on dollars savings, and the sources of social transfers and benefits will be created. Overall the consumption and demand should be kept, so the economy at least would breathe…

Ilkin Rustamzade of NIDA movement puts it in a more simple and direct way: “ Serious analysis shows, that the government should urgently undertake more significant measures, otherwise people will face hunger very soon. The only way to help porr and the business is to allow depreciation of the currency – manat.”

Ilkin Rustamzade speculates about uncertainty in case if he get infected. He is afraid that if gets to the hospital, he will not survive its conditions.How can one be so cruel and shameless, — he asks,  — They literally behave like an occupants’ regime. We are Jews of the ghetto called Azerbaijan”

Gozel Bayramli of PFP writes that the degree of the government’s anti-people’s attitude is unimaginable. It gave an instruction to cut the power cut to all citizens, who have communal payments debts. She calls the government officials who put their personal interests above the society’s – anti-national  government. The notion of people does not exist for them, as the income of the ruling family is above all.

Nigar Hezi warns about the pressure on other activists and comments that the government does even think of stopping repressions. Now they target Rufat Safarov, whom they want to accuse of hooliganism too.

She also states that Ilham Aliyev does everything to “self -isolate” Azerbaijan from the rest of the world.

Ali Kerimli of PFP covers the reaction of international community to the full of hatred to opposition Novruz speech of Ilham Aliyev. He brings quotations from the article in The National Interest publication entitled “ Why do the autocrats  like coronavirus?”, which strongly criticize the speech of Aliyev on the 19th March, which called the opposition the 5th column, anti-Azerbaijani forces and national traitors.  He also quote Paul Goble, who stressed that the situation of epidemics was used by Aliyev to arrest the opposition activist Tofig Yagublu. He also brings to the attention of his followers the letter of the head of the third biggest faction of the European Parliament ALDE Guy Verhofstadt, which he addressed to the EU vice-president Josef Borrell and where he urges him to adopt the decision about the European Magnitsky Act, as the autocrats are taking an advantage of the pandemics.

Altay Geyushov explains the behavior of Azerbaijani government which goes contrary to the other states’ governments. While the other states  give their citizens aid packages, our government is collecting money from the citizens to some foundation- this is because those are modern states, and our is- feudal property. The latter covers not only the immovable property, but people too. In modern state it belongs to every citizen, while in ours- feudal- only to the ruling family. That’s why the state cares only about the ruling family’s security, not the rest of the society. So we cannot really condemn them for that – this is an essence and the definition of the feudal state. You exist to provide for security of the family. The sovereign feudal is a state and a law, and that’s why he punishes whoever he wants, or take the property of whoever he wants, or awards whoever he wants. I mean that the US gives aid package to people, because the state belongs to the citizens. And in contrary, our givernemnt collects money from people, because the state belongs to the family. Once we have a state belomgng tous, we can expect it to give us an aid package. So far, we are slaves of the feudal and we are viewed from the point of view of the master’s security. The master in turn orders: “ Go to the abyss, go to the abyss!”

Ali Kerimli refers to the state instruction “ stay at home”

It is hard to keep hungry people at home, he writes, this is a very distressing picture, pointing to the photo of crowds of people waiting for the opening of the metro. Only in the metro this overcrowded situation totally nullifies the rules of the self-isolation and social distance  in the conditions of pandemic. The only way to resolve this situation is to give aid package to the business and employees at least in the amount of 300 manats. The government should not delay this measure.

Ali Kerimli alerts his followers in regards arrest of two activists. The member of the Khazar branch of the Popular Front Party  Agil Humbatov was stolen by the people in civilian clothes from his work place. Yesterday he broadcasted on his timeline the critical statement in regards president Aliyev because he could not afford medical treatment  of his family member. It looks, like regime does not care how will three underage children survive, one of which is sick, while he is in prison. Also today, the head of the Sumgayit based  NGO  The Legal Education of the Sumgayit Youth and the editor in chief of the site In the Name of Progress Elchin Mammad was detained. The prosecutors opened the criminal case against him based on 177.4-2 article ( theft with the significant damage). They also attracted the same witness which was used earlier by the authorities in false testifying against the other journalist. He also reminded that Elchin Mammad  was one of the candidates protesting the results of the falsified elections on the 9 February 2020. “ We should not be surprised if the justification by the authorities of the arrests would be that this was the operation on isolation of the enemies within the framework of struggle with the coronavirus”

Ilkin Rustamzade along with other activists running the petition of the aid package to the population. It assumes 2 months freezing of the communal bills and bank credit payments and 300 manats of the direct transfers to each citizen.

FB users widely share a powerful status posted by Yalchin Imanov on his timeline about Tofig Yagublu, which is called  “ It is not possible to break such men, you jerks!”

Gozel Bayramli comments that this is a right timing to demand the money stolen from people and taken to the offshore accounts by the officials. There cannot be more difficult times for the nation, can it? They are not going to do any concessions or render any aid to the people, as it is observed.

Gozel Bayramli also writes, that based on FB information, the price of potatoes, onions and basic products has increased. Low income families  at least could buy these products at the markets for the accessible price, but due to their closure, now the dealers are making money taking an advantage of the epidemics. Everyone knows who the supermarkets belong to.  What else do they want from people? Is the harm they did to them not enough?  Why are not they held responsible before justice ?  Obviously there is no political will to do it. And what can one expect from the government who was taking advantage of the epidemics and arresting its opponents like Tofig Yagublu and not learning lessons from the strong criticism by the most respectful international organizations? These are people, who consider Azerbaijan their private enterprise.

Ordukhan Babirov paints even gloomier picture. He warns the population not to allow the government and Aliyev to take control over the communal bills, because this will mean that very soon there be cuts of gas, water, power and internet.

Ganimed Zahidov  comments- all over the country they are collecting money to the Coronavirus Foundation and I will tell you one item of expenditures of these money – this March Pasha Holding has transferred to its Pasha Technology enterprise 8 mln manats making its total capital 13, 1 mln manat. If we cannot bring this capital to 20 mln manats by the end of coronavirus epidemics – shame on us! “ – he exclaims ironically.


Март 31, 2020







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