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Center for National and International Studies
The FB users have been reacting to the video of the internal meeting of the National Council, the continued arrests of the bureaucrats, disclosure of the illegal income of the heads of executive power, official speeches of the president related to the corruption.
The dominating topic these days was the video of the recent internal zoom meeting of the board of the National Council in two parts, having an effect of a big scandal. First clip had comments of homophobic nature from one of the participants of the meeting related to the LGBT, which caused a lot of condemnation from various circles of civil society, political activists and journalists. The second part had a clip with the comments and critical opinions of the National Council members, such as Gultakin Hajiyeva, Jamil Hasanli about Musavat party and REAL. Sevinj Osmangizi in an unprecedented move had made her TV commentary in English explaining “why National Council and why now?” describing it as a deliberate targeting of the National Council as part of the general attack on Popular Front Party and Ali Karimli, due to its perception as a threat to a regime. Musavat party leader demanded apology from Jamil Hasanli for his comments about the party. In turn, the Popular Front Party’s representative Seymur Hezi came up with the statement denying their connection with the video and with the group of people from National Council, who commented improperly. The discussion of the video dominated the space of FB, fitting the previously circulated idea, that “the opposition and the government are of the same level”.
The other topic discussed in the social networks is a strong anti-corruption rhetoric by the president and his official speeches devoted to this issue. The FB users particularly comment on his speech on Public TV where he discredits the way the regional heads of executive power have been appointed and how corrupt were their governing practices. He urged the heads of executive to work clean and serve the citizens. He called corruption a crime, and that they usually pay a bribe to get appointed to their positions. He confirmed, that as a result they collect their money from the directors of schools and hospitals and entrepreneurs, and that from now on they will be seriously investigated by the prosecutor’s office.
The scale of corruption is reflected in analysis by the economist Gubad Ibadoglu, who quoting the president wrote that in the housing assigned for the IDPs even 20% are not from that category, although on the 1st April 2020 only SOFAZ has allocated 2 bln 563 mln 600 manat for the needs of IDPs and refugees. Ibadoglu finds its contradictory that while not mentioning this issue to the recently resigned deputy premier Ali Hasanov, the president points it to the newly appointed head of executive of the Kelbajar region.
The closure of the banks and situation in the financial sector is still a hot topic, as it touched many citizens and business. The FB users share an interview of Elman Rustamov, the chair of the Central bank, who gave an interview to the News.Day.Az, and warned that two more banks might be closed too. The comments say: “ He should be a subject of the investigation himself.” The FB users also share the interview with an economist Samir Aliyev to the ARB24 Gundem program. He stressed that the closure was not the necessary outcome of the inspection of the banks. But it appeared that the official data about these banks capital and operations were not accurate. For instance, the AD Banks capital was negative since 2015, while the data was not showing it. 680 mln manat of customers’ deposit were saved in these banks. He stressed that without serious reforms, first of all monitoring and oversight mechanisms providing for transparency of the financial system, as otherwise population’s trust in the state will erode (only in March there were near 480 mln savings were withdrawn), and there will be high centralization of the banking sector. Now the concentration already high -5 banks have 70% of the capital according to the expert.
FB users continue to discuss the issue of repressions and new information about arrests of activists and journalists. Azad Soz reports hijacking of a journalist Afghan Sadigli and broadcasts the interview with his wife. She said, that he disappeared while going grocery shopping on the 13th May around noon and did not respond to the messages until 17.00. At that time the 6-8 policemen broke in her house, under the disguise of the representatives of the Ministry of Labor who are visiting in connection with 190 manat state aid. They have made searches, expropriated mobile telephones, computers, looking for the disc with his programs. The wife still did not know where he was held, and did not allow the meeting with the legal defender, but an official information confirmed that there was a criminal case opened against him in the department of the fight with corruption of the General Prosecutor’s office. One of the ex-political prisoners the activist Vugar Aliyev recalls how in 2016 the group of masked employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs broke in his mother’s house to arrest him, and while he was lying on the floor , 5 underage children at the house visiting grandmother were scared and asked to call the police. The answer of grandmother was- “this is the police”. FB users also comment and share their own experiences in prison accompanying the video by the activist Sanay Yagmur about humiliating practices in Azerbaijani prisons. They make prisoners clean the toilets, video recording it and then force them to apologize for their political views or opposition actions.