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Center for National and International Studies
The FB users write, comment and share the information about regime’s isolation of the leader of the Popular Front Party Ali Karimli, the statement of the National Council on this matter, on the state aid to business and population, malfunctioning electronic system of registration of unemployed, repressions against activists, the humiliating way of distributing aid by the corrupt bureaucrats.
Seymur Hezi shares the status of Elmira Muradaliyeva ( academic and PFP activist) who writes about post-pandemics times in the country. She calls pandemics not just a virus, but a test. She asserts, that people’s survival depends on the stance which they take nowadays towards injustice, lies, insults to the most diginified members of the society. “How can the government call the internationally respected scholar Jamil Hasanli or the leader of the biggest opposition party Ali Kerimli— the people’s enemies? Before we start to respect our opponents, we would no be a nation and will not be respected by the others.
Tofig Yagublu is a conscience of our nation, but who was put in prison under the trumped up charges in the conditions of pandemics. Now there is a long list of “ coronavirus prisoners”. Do you believe that they sent SMS for permission to go out and then resisted to police? In the other countries they let all the prisoners because of virus. And now we will justify ourselves by “ not getting involved in politics” Today this involvement is an expression of the basic humanity. Why people who all joined voices for the public shaming campaign against unethical statement of the actress Bashirgizi, keep silence against the president’s expression “people’s enemies”? Please, do not be selective regarding injustice towards “ours” and that against the “others” , May be standing in solidarity we will win over the virus”, she concludes.
Hezi also gives review of the foreign media of the recent persecutions of the activists. He mentions that information about repressions, putting Agil Humbatov to the psychiatric clinic, were reported not only in the Western media, but also in FSU, such as Belarus Belsat canal.
Gubad Ibadoglu explains to the public the rules and ways of getting state aid. This time he describes the fates of the population’s application to get an aid for the unemployed. “ After you received the first SMS confirming reception of your application, you will have to receive the second one, which may have two kinds of information. One kind will inform you that you will get 190 manats and with ID you should approach either to the post — office, International Bank or Kapital bank closest to you branch. The other kind will inform you that you are not eligible. If you did not receive any of these, you should call to the 142 hotline of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population. Those, who failed earlier to register and apply can still do it at the e-sosial.az. Those who received confirmation on their phone, can go out only after SMS permission to go out, should come to the branch of whatever is indicated in SMS – the bank or the post-office.
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev comments on the drama in the city center when in the times of quarantine people are forced out in the streets because some company decided to destroy the building where they live and that is in spite of the owners’ protest asserting that the building is not “unsafe”. He stresses that they want to destroy the building in the normal condition, while not touching the other building next door, which is unsafe and where people were putting cotton in the holes in the walls to protect themselves. He attracts attention of the MP Nigar Arpadarai ( who was his rival at the elections) to the case.
Javid Gara urges not to sell the items of secondary need in the supermarkets, as this is unfair from the point of view competition and leads to the bankrupting of the small shops specializing on these items. He brings the example of Walmart which took it in account.
Ordukhan Babirov comments on the statement of the actress Afag Bashirgizi- The grandson of the actress, who grew up in her villa, distributes 2 kilo of rice to the people, “ “who were born and were given birth in the stairways and escaped hunger in the regions by coming to Baku”. ( quotation from actress’s comments- L.A.) Go, get it, eat it and pray for her. The more you humiliate yourself, they do it more! The more you humiliate yourself, you do it more!”
Gozel Bayramli of PFP comments that “it looks like the 1937 came back, and that when they cannot find the opposition member in the street, they break in their houses uninvited. Today they have taken the Karabagh war veteran Rza Seferov from their home. Regime does not want protests, and wants everyone to shut down. But it is not possible. People are not only protest, they hate this regime. The greater damage will be made to the regime itself as a result of the attempt to try to suppress, they are just not aware of it.”
She also shares the essay by the PFP activist and journalist Ilham Huseyn.He writes about the uniting values of people. He stresses that they call people to like not themselves, but common values- those of motherland, state, justice, freedom, happiness and achieve them. He responds to critics, who say that “ you have been struggling for so long and what have you achieved?”, “ do not bother yourselves, it is hopeless anyway”, or the government’s directing all its resources to labeling them the people’s enemies. He asserts that they are already in power, not only in opposition, but also in power. “We took power morally.” He quotes Jean-Paul Sartre to support his idea. He explains that in moral sphere they won over the ruling regime. He also quotes Ben Svitland, that success is the road you are going, not the achieved space. He considers, that all the victims of this regime are winners. While Tofig Yagublu is not called Mr. Minister, he is called Mr. Conscience, Mr. Dignity. People who overcome fear, rejected slavery, fought for freedoms of all people cannot be defeated or considered losers. Why does the government call us the people’s enemies? Not only because we struggle for power. But because we legalized the moral victory and we are near the people, the state. If we wanted something for ourselves- they would give it to us long time ago. But we are punished for wanting something for all. We do not consider – numerous villas, packages of dollars, expensive cars, a victory, but free land, people’s high living standards, and the strong and dignified state.”
Natig Jafarli considers that so far the social lifts of the “family” helped society to avoid starvation. But he asks two questions: 1) For how long it will work? 2) What will compensate the income losses of the state budget?
He then continues with calculations – of 10 mln population, 1,3 mon are pensioners, 915 thousand work in the state sector an continues to receive their salaries, 400,000 gets various benefits from the state, 293 thousand gets presidential pension, all together they are 2, 9 mln. people.300 thousand people of the closed private sector will paid by the government, 150 thousand of non closed private sector ( markets, pharmacies etc) will continue to get their salaries, 200 thousand unemployed will get 190 manats ( even if with problems) for two months. Total 3 mln 600 thousand will get their support. So in every family 1 or even two people will get some income. And the whole economic activities, trade turnover via budget will be spent on these people. He then characterizes the economy of the country-no economic institutions were created, the market economy has only name, the economy is of state-bureaucratic nature. And now the whole burden is on the budget, whose 60% was filled by oil income. In 2020 the income of the budget was planned as 24 bln 134 mln, of them 48% of the budget will eb filled by the SOFAZ ( 11 bln350 mln) No problem with that amount, while SOFAZ will transfer this money, although will get into a desperate condition itself. The other 12% are made of the taxes from the income of the oil companies, but it ws calculated based on the oil price of 55 dollars per barrell. This means that SOCAR and others were supposed to transfer 2, 5 bln manat to the budget. But with the current oil prices this amount will be reduced by 1 bln. The taxes of the physical persons (14% of the income – again those working in the oil sector) 1bln 175 mln. But the private sector taxes usually filled the Social Protection Fund, and there will be serious decrease in these amounts. Overall this year the income from taxes should have been 4 bln 735 mln manats, but this prognosis will not be justified. 1) the non-food trade declined to the minimum, 2) Many economic areas were totally shut down, 3) the economic activity and foreign trade weakened, so the decrease will be at least by 1 bln.
The Customs Agency contribution to the budget will also decrease – this year it was supposed to be in taxes 2bln 705 mln, and in fines – 900 mln. Because of the closed borders- the loss will be at least half of a billion manat. The income from the paid services of the budget organizations was supposed to be 840 mln manats, and this will be decreased by 100-150 mln manat. While the budgetary income will eb significantly reduces, its expenditures already has been increased by 2,5 bln manat. The only source for such money is SOFAZ, so its spending will grow this year. Jafarli suggests that by May – June the Parliament should review the budget, to reduce the infrastructure expenditures and to increase social protection. But he considers this of low probability because of two reasons: 1) most of the economic activities are made with the budget money 2) this money is the guarantee of the political loyalty.
Altay Geyushov comments on the arrival of Chinese import: “ Yesterday when I saw the so called doctors lined up with banners to meet the plane freight and accompanied guests from China in the airport I remembered the Soviet times, when we were forced as 1 st year students with banners stand along the street to meet the escort of Brezhnev. We did not even think of not submitting , as we were already the result of a few generations of cattle — the brainwashed one. When somebody today praises the Soviet times, I feel like they want to bring me back to that condition of cattle. These things do not happen at once- but step by step. They deprive people of their dignity and freedoms, and abuse their fear of losing bread. To survive people trade their freedoms and dignity for a piece of bread. After a while, people give away their heads too, so there is no difference between them and the cattle. They can lead the cattle where they want, and before they kill them- they can tie red ribbon around their necks, or even put hennah on their heads.”
Ali Kerimli of PFP reports that Ilham Aliyev remains devoted to his course on isolation of opposition announced in his 19 March speech and includes the journalists in his hunt, as two more people – correspondents of the Azadlyq newspaper were arrested. Besides opening the criminal case against the journalist and PFP activist Tezekhan Miralamli, where notorious Ata Abdullayev was a witness), Natig Isbatov and Ibrahim Vazirov were arrested for 30 and 25 days respectively. He stresses that while the international media reflects how Azerbaijani authorities under the excuse of fight with pandemics fight the opposition and freedoms, the government pretends that it does not hear it and continues it repressions. He also reports that the Karabagh veteran Rza Sefersoy was taken by the people in civilian clothes from his home to an unknown location.He also informs that the government continues to surprise people. Hikmet Agayev, who was distributing aid to those in need first was fined for 100 manats and then based on the article 211 arrested for 25 days. Apparently, the government decided that because he is a member of the Muslim Unity Movement he does not have a right to render aid to the poor ones. Earlier, while distributing free masks for the population another member of the same organization Samir Babayev was arrested for 30 days. It looks like there is not only a political or economic monopoly in this country, but in charity area too. Even when people are locked at homes, they give the chance to help them only to those who are with big favor give aid to those flattering the authorties before the cameras.
Yadigar Sadyghli comments, that Putin’s mentioning 1 thousand year old historical enemies of Russia along with coronavirus in its videoconference with the regional governors of Russia is similar to Erdogan who also reminds in such cases of Malazgird.
Gubad Ibadoglu calculates that the government needs 1 bln 212 mln monthly to cover salaries, pensions and social benefits. For the whole year this sum is 13 bln 193 mln 800 thousand manat, with 1, 35 bln allocated to the fight with coronavirus and its consequences – 14 bln 543 mln 800 thous. Manats. This is minimum which state is obliged to cover for the population, This means that monthly income of the budget should be 1 bln 212 mln. With the current price of oil 212 mln can be produced by the oil trade, but the rest should be provided by the local economy, and the only sectors which are not shut down during quarantine is agriculture and some production sectors. But agricultural sector is free of taxes. The financial situation is very difficult. It is nit by accident that the president at the meeting dedicated to the social economic results of the 1 quarter of 2020 requested the bureaucrats to find new sources of funding. “ What do you think these new sources should be?- Ibadoglu is asking his followers.
He also states, that there is no transparency of spending of 1,35 bln manat funding. This sum was allocated from the President’s Reserve Fund and other funds. Of this sum 1bln was given to financing of the Cabinet of Ministers Plan of Measures, while 350 mln manat – to the providing of medical equipment, support for the personnel, disinfection works etc. I suggest that the list of the equipment of imported to the country and spending of 350 mln to be made public and the information of the company who is responsible for that should be disclosed. Also, the information about the tender and this company’s participation should be disclosed. All COVID-19 related all expenditures should be reported about and the transparency should be provided.
He then focuses on the financial support for the banking sector, which is 627 mln manat. However, he comments, the banks still did not make any concessions to their customers. The chair of the Central Bank Elman Rustamov at the video meeting with the president said that CB gives all the support to the banks ofvthe country. But why the banks has not made any concessions to their customers, do not announce a break in the payments of creadits etc.? The customers of Ata Bank not only do not get any concessions, they cannot even get their savings from the bank. He also encourages micro business representatives and contract workers to apply for the aid support, as it should be 930 manat per a taxpayer.
Nurlan Libre comments on inconsistency of the court system in the country. He mentions that the parents of the imprisoned political activist Nariman Abdullah requested the decision of the Lenkoran Court to apply to the Court of Appeal but their request was denied. They responded that they will give it to himself upon his release. They have a right to apply to the Court of Appeal within 10 days – and in general why would a person need it after he is released?
The issue of isolation of the leader of the Popular Front Party Ali Kerimli is widely commented on, shared and discussed. The National Council issued its statement, starting it with the description of the incident that happened before planned interview of Ali Karimli to Sevinc Osmangizi TV on the 13th of April. Fifteen minutes before the interview all means of communication in the house of Ai Karimli were cut off. Aftre a short restoration of the internet on the 14th after the ad of his interview on Osmangizi TV it was cut off again. The statement says, that by resorting to this method the regime of Aliyve proves that it is not capable of civilized competition with its opponents, and its losing the struggle in the sphere of public opinion. The regime is also preparing provocations by trying to spread the fake information that the opposition is calling people to the streets and violence, which is total lie. The National Council concludes with an appeal to the government, people and the international community,
Seymur Hezi shares the comments by the lawyer Fuad Agayev, who considers that deprivation of anyone in the modern society of the internet and other means of communication is not only violation of its freedom of expression ( The Article 10 of the international human rights convention) but also unacceptable interference in the private lives of the citizens ( article 8 of the Convention). “First they arrested his closest people – bodyguard and an assistant- now cut off all means of communication – it is too much even for such a n autocratic rule as in Russia. Along with the deprivation him of the foreign passport for many years, and non-implementation of the decision of the ECHR in this matter, imposition of these limitations besides being an unhuman treatment, can be considered as a continuation of a moral psychological pressure . I believe that the government which considers itself strong cannot resort to such methods, but rather should punish the bureaucrats who exceeded their authority”
Arif Mamamdov, a diplomat in exile, calls his posting “ The Ali Karimli headache of Ilham Aliyev. Yesterday when the vido conference of the president Aliyve started it was viewed 2 times, 1 hour after 26, and 7 hours – 232 views. One can consider it high result and the indicator of the people’s love.
However, after Ali Karimli’s “ hello, good evenin” words during broadcasting already there were 3-5 thousands views, 1 hour later – 20-30 thousands, 6-7 hours-more than 200 thousands… That’s what is called a headache…”
Ulvi Hasanli comments on the aid and electronic system: While themselves they are stealing in billions, they hardly give 190 manats to the people. The system fails again. They design the system for fining the citizens or drivers with the preciseness of a jeweler, but in the system for registering unemployed they made so many malfunctions, so that more people in need will not apply.
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev writes: “ Let this quarantine finishes soon, so we would be delivered from watching in the media photos of the 17 staff of the heads executive power of the regions who has accumulated tens of millions but distributed each of the 10 families an aid package for 16 manat 30 gap. But there were a few groups of young activists whodid much greater work for the population in need, and which proved importance of the civil society and that it should not be destroyed. He also comments on the controversies of quarantine: “ It is not so hard to stay home, because I was in different situations, when I could not get out of some premises. … In prison, from the solitary confinement up to the 15-16 people in the cell for 4 people, or the barracks with 50-60 people. None of them was hard. The hardest now is that in this critical period because many worthy people are confined to their homes and forced to observe the situation from outside the decision making is in the hands of people like Ramil Hasan, Arpadarai, Razi Nurullayev… This we will hardly forget … This will be a true quarantine trauma….
Gozel Bayramli also comments on the photo, which was widely shared by FB users – with the executive personnel lined up on the distance from the old people— recipients of the aid.. “ These photos demonstrate how deep is abyss between the people and the power. On the one side- the impudent, thieves, robbers – the power, on the other side – robbed of, not having seen even the trace of billions of petro-dollars and tested by bread – people.”
Natig Jafarli analyses why it is wise to keep high value local currency, showing that it put us in the high dependence on import, eliminated the local production, etc. but it did not serve a lesson.
Ilkin Rustamzade criticizes young neo- communists in the country, and causes an extensive debate on this topic with references to the Azerbaijan history, Russia etc.
Khadija Ismayil observes that there are numerous comments that coronavirus is a fake news, and the source of such comments is usually Russian propaganda spread via whatsapp. In the meantime, the government is arresting opposition.