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Center for National and International Studies
The most discussed topic these days is police brutality in enforcement strict quarantine rules and the protest of the dwellers of the complex during last weekend, shortage of bread, frictions within the opposition camp, persecution of the activists and their conditions in prison, the situation with pandemic in Azerbaijan and the government policy, the first democratic elections in 1992, short-lived Elchibey government and the reasons of its defeat.
The FB pages were full of the video showing police brutality during the detention of those who violated the strict quarantine regime declared for the last weekend. The police outnumbering two smokers in front of the building in a violent way put them in the police car and took them to the police department. It was reported that the criminal case was opened against one of them for the “ resistance to police”. While they were taken away, many local dwellers of the high rise complex threw garbage down to the police car as a protest. The police returned with the detachment of 200 special police force and took out of his flat semi-naked person who threw the garbage. The citizen as it was reported later was a cancer patient. The video depicting group of police carrying semi-naked dweller and accompanied by the dozens of armed special police force quickly circulated in FB and was added by the other similar shots from other big cities, such as Ganja. The commentaries were mainly comparing it to the Nazi Germany, or ironically to the” operation of capture of terrorists” and strongly condemned the action of police. Jamil Hasanli compared police behavior to that of Germans towards Jewish people in the WW2. The community was divided however on assessment of throwing down the garbage by the dwellers, some- calling it disobedience and violation of law, while the others- form of protest. Ilkin Rustamzade of NIDA comments that this will not end well, and those who ordered this violent enforcement should be aware of that. Natig Jafarli of REAL considers this violence and brutality an overreaction and totally meaningless attack on the person, who came out just alone to get some fresh air, without threatening anyone’s health. He stresses that the events further undermined people’s trust to police which is important for the strong state. Popular Front Party spread its statement where they condemned brutality of the police observed during the last two days of the strict quarantine which was humiliating and torturing citizens, assessed it as totally illegal and demand a punishment of those responsible. Altay Geyushov comments on the events that there is no effective policy of the president beyond the application of the repressive apparatus, but warns that there is a process parallel to the strengthening of the police force their loyalty is decreasing and at some point it will easy change their loyalties. Rabiyye Mammadova comments that the more police exposes violence and brutality the more distrust and hatred they trigger in people towards themselves. Gozel Bayramli responds to the police violence in Yasamal dstrict of the capital: “ Was not it enough that you kept people hungry during the pandemic, what else do you want from them?” She continues: “ There was an order of attack, but not in Karabagh, but in Yasamal! This morning 200 special forces came to the court yard and detained few people- of course, they are the trainees of the Bandotdel of Vilayet Eyvazov! They showed that they are going to speak this language ( of force) with people”. Ilkin Rustamzade quotes the famous words of the German poet Martin Neimoller to warn that Nazis today went to get the dwellers of Yasamal district while the society kept silence, and “they will come to take all of us, if we continue to keep silence”. Khadija Ismayil commented: “This is committed by Azerbaijani police the main pillar of president Aliyev — which we allowed to do with our silence.” People also shared the video as part of naming and shaming of the policeman who called the arrested and his wife “ rabbits” Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, while admitting that throwing garbage to police is not a good act, considers it should be thought through and the reasons addressed, otherwise it will lead to the unpredictable results. He also calls a very dangerous trend to justify the application of inadequate force of police to its own citizens and warns that one day it can touch upon their own families. “Police, he continues, does not behave him/herself as a public servant, but as a master, or a boss of a citizen” Hebib Muntezir lists the major violations of law and human rights committed by the police force who broke in people’s apartments in response to the garbage incident. First of all he mentions the violation of the article 5 part 2 of the Constitution about police force, which prohibits any humiliation or violation of the people’s dignity. The other violations include 1) breaking in private property 2) humiliation of citizen’s dignity 3) physical and moral violence 4) threat and torture of the citizens. He condemns people, who justify the actions of police. He comments:” So it is OK for police to plant drugs to innocent people, slander them, get the bribe, or hit them, but it is not OK to throw garbage at them”. Alasgar Ahmadoglu quotes fully the respective article of the Constitutions about the police, reminding police about their obligations. Ulvi Hasanli considers that the bureaucracy is so deeply involved in dirt, garbage, that they forget about people’s need to get rid of garbage, especially its urgency during the Summer time. He also suggests that they probably felt the people’s hatred they earned during the last two days. Gubad Ibadoglu gives a commentary regarding the armored car in which the police took away the dweller of the high rise in Yasamal district. He mentions that the price of this car ( Jeep Wrangler Military Edition) reaches 125 mln dollars. He stresses that last year he strongly advised to keep the expenditures on the court, law enforcement and prosecutors in 2020 budget year rather than increase them as planned by 49,7% ( 655 mln 331 thousand 737 manat, of which law enforcement would constitute 68,5%. (448 mln 726 thousand 224 manat) Total for the security and defense purposes the budget planned expenditures are 5 bln 827 mln manats. In many cases these money are not spent on salary rise of policemen, but on buying expensive cars and equipment.
FB users – activists, bloggers, journalists and political leaders continue to assess the events policemen the coup-d’etat of 1993 which ousted president Elchibey. Some consider that many questions are unanswered and there is a need to find details and answers to them. With this purpose Rauf Mirgadirov interviewed Isa Gambar, but commented that he did not receive answers. Isa Gambar in turn commemorated events of the 7th June 1992 – the presidential elections posting a status on his timeline and stressed three major traits of it. 1. It was first and the last democratic elections in the modern history of Azerbaijan. 2.Elchibey was the first the last president who was elected in the democratic way. 3. İsa Gambar üas the first the last head of state having provided conditions for democratic conditions. Gozel Bayramli also reminds that Elchibey won those elections with 59% of votes. She reminds that the achievemnets of his governemnt included introduction of the test system in the education, withdrawal of all Soviet troops from the country, building of the national army, defence of the country, 3 times incraese of the school teachers’ salaries etc. She comments that they understand who is behind the new campaign against Elchibey these days and calls him a great personlity who has written Azerbaijan’s history. Altay Geyushov while considering it natural that Elchibey’s governemnt was short lived, not unlike all other first post-Sovite generation of leaders, is intrigued by the fact, that alternative to Elchibey in 1992 elections Nizami Suleymanov, whom his calls non serious populist and fairy tales teller got 30% of votes. He observes that in spite of the internet and all the global developemnt not much in people’s preferences could have changed- the adventurists still atttract some parts of society by giving empty promises. Yadigar Sadyghli considers that Elchibey surrendering before the rebellioner in 1993 without resistance and leaving for the village Keleki did not justify expectations of its voters and deeply disappointed them.
People continue to discuss social- economic impact of pandemic. Gubad Ibadoglu attracts readers’ attention to the fact that its been a few days already since the trucks with fruits and vegetables were not allowed from Baku to the boder with Russia and that this waiting time leads to their spoiling. In addition, they will have to wait at the border, while passing through customs, as the daily norm of passage is 20-25 trucks. This causes serious dissatisfaction among the exporters. He mentions that due to the pandemic limitations in Russian market the export of non-oil sector dropped by 4,8%. He also announces the topic of the round table on ZOOM arranged by his movement ADR “ The fight with corruption and return of the stolen money”. He also refers to the falsification of the pandemic statistics. One is that people who did not test positive in the virus but have some symptoms are hospitalized along with their family members and then after a few days released. This is done to improve statistics on recovered cases. At the same time they increase number of infected which gives them an excuse to strengthen control over population. People report about calls back to the jobs by their bosses under the conditions when the public transport has limited functioning and is overloaded by passengers. Seymur Hezi comments on the video of people struggling for bread in the bakeries in the eve of the strict weekend last week, that this video is placed in the internet deliberately to undermine people’s trust in themselves. He mentions that this video tries to overwrite thousands of cases of mutual support and people’s help to those who is in need during quarantine. Hebib Muntazir publishes the list of the owners of the major supermarkets in the context of the shortage of bread just before the strict weekend quarantine and concludes that all of them belong either to the president’s family or their cronies. BRAVO ( belongs to Pahsayevs), NEPTUN ( belongs to Kamaladdin Heydarov, but most of his business was appropriated by Pashayevs, BAZARSTORE ( Azersun holding with close relations to the family) BIZIM MARKET ( Eldar Mahmudov) etc. He also mentions that Ilham Aliyev so many times condemned and criticized one year of Elchibey’s in office, that there were queues for bread and shortage of products, that all these things realized in 2020 during his own rule. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev compares statistics of recent cases of infected of Azerbaijan to that in Georgia, which is 100 times greater. Gubad Ibadoglu attracts FB users attention to the trend of increasing coronavirus statistics in Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia, while there is a decrease in developed countries. He mentions three reasons of this trend in Azerbaijan1) poor governance ( the public places- cafes, shops etc, opened too early due to the owners of the major markets), 2) weak immunity of people – due to the low quality of the products of monopolist on the food market Azersun, stresses, lack of exercises ( instead of promoting public health Olympic complexes worth of millions turned into a source of corruption) 3)weak individual defense from pandemic due to the lack of trust in the government and state institutions, indifference etc.
FB users discuss the continued persecution of activists. They report that just released from 30 days of administrative detention Elvin Mammadov ( the member of the PFP Garadagh branch and also a poet) was not allowed by his boss too return to his job of the security guard at the Sadarak market justifying it by his membership in PFP. Similarly another PFP activist Arif Babayev was not allowed to return to his job. The FB users also actively share the article by the US diplomat and HR expert Richard Kauzlarich and David Kramer who are attracting attention to the situation with human rights in Azerbaijan. They stress that unlike Russia, which is often in the center of attention of the West, Azerbaijan due to its oil resources, which allows it to buy off Western politicians and geopolitical location bordering Iran is held backstage. They also remind, that unlike in Belarus, sanctions were never applied to Azerbaijan. The authors are convinced that the US government should not praise Aliyev every time he releases political prisoners. They conclude with stressing that Azerbaijani authorities under the cover of pandemic quarantine are arresting its political opponents or people who simply criticize they dealing with pandemic. Rabiyya Mammadova reports that court of Appela upheld the decision of the court in the first instance on 15 days in prison for Rustam Ismayilbeyli. The activists continuously campaign demanding freedom to Tofig Yagublu. Khadija Ismayil remembers that there was only one toilet for 47 people in prison, so she had to wake up at 5.30 to get there first. Popular Front Party made a statement regarding the 53 day of Ali Karimli information blockade. They mention difficulties of this condition and touched upon the criticism “ of low level” by Ilgar Mammadov in response to one material which was shared by admin. One of the speakers in this video criticised position of Mammadov in regards Ramil Safarov. Earlier Ilgar Mammadov also called the blockade “fake”. The admin expressed its regret that Mammadov showed solidarity with the government instead of the PFP.