Center for National and International Studies
“The non-transparent, unreported, and clandestine financial operations carried out by the Azerbaijani government in the liberated territories of Karabakh played a decisive role in its decline in the corruption index…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Jailed activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev who has been on hunger strike for more than three weeks, refused to stop the hunger strike. His mother and friends asked the activist to stop hunger out of fear for his life. According to Hajiyev’s lawyer, he told his mother that he doesn’t consider himself guilty of a crime and will not stop the hunger strike until he is released. “I will go until the end because I am innocent”, Hajiyev said. Hajiyev‘s mother Solida Movlayeva appealed to the office of the Ombudsman, saying that her son’s life is in danger.
Member of the APFP Sabunchu District Branch, activist Elnur Hasanov, was detained by police officers in civilian clothes at the Head Office of Azerishik. Although they first said that they worked for the Azerishik, later they introduced themselves as the employees of the Baku City General Police Department. Two days before detention, Hasanov protested against the electricity cut at his 85-year-old grandmother’s apartment. On his social media post, Hasanov criticized the government and the authorities saying that he had been watched by unknown people lately.
Journalist Avaz Zeynalli was transferred from the Pretrial Detention Center of the State Security Service to the Baku Pretrial Detention Center No. 1 of the Penitentiary Service. The head of Khural TV, Avaz Zeynalli, has been in prison on trumped-up charges since September 11, 2022. According to his lawyer, Zeynalli is not allowed to meet his family members and relatives and was denied to make phone calls.
Member of the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) Tofig Yagublu said that on the day of the commemoration of the 139th birthday of Mahammad Amin Rasulzade, the founder of the Azerbaijani Republic group of politicians and activists representing the opposition was attacked by the police in civilian clothes. Yagublu’s post: “The government showed yet another level of immaturity. Today, the National Council visited the monument of the great Mahammad Amin Rasulzadeh in the village of Novkhani, where he was born, to celebrate his 139th birthday. Just like last year, this year as well, police officers in plain clothes drove cars against the people who were going to visit the monument. Of course, such abominable methods could not stop us from visiting the memorial and paying tribute. It just showed how ignoble they (authorities) are.”
Governance and Corruption
Transparency International shared the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2022, showing a further decline in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Azerbaijan’s score dropped by 7 points, and with its current score of 29, it is in the worst position in the Caucasus Region in terms of corruption. Among the post-soviet countries, Turkmenistan (19 out of 100 scores), Azerbaijan (23 out of 100 scores), and Tajikistan (24 out of 100 scores) are the countries with the lowest scores. In the list, Denmark was marked as very clean with a score of 90/100, while Somali was on the end of the list as highly corrupt, having a 12/100 score.
Chairperson of the ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu said that “the non-transparent, unreported, and clandestine financial operations carried out by the Azerbaijani government in the liberated territories of Karabakh played a decisive role in its decline in the corruption index.”
Rising tensions with Iran
After the attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran, the Ministry of Internal Affairs launched the operation “search for Iranian spy network” and detained 39 people. It is reported that those who were arrested were identified as agents of the Iranian government. According to the information disseminated by the Ministry, the detained persons carried out acts of sabotage and deception under the “veil of religion,” and they carried out propaganda in favor of Iran on social networks. However, the relatives of the detained persons told Meydan TV that none of them were spies and are the victims of the tension between the two countries.
Moreover, an operation was conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs against the “SalamNews” information agency and the “Interaz” website. At least six people were detained, and the activities of the media agencies were suspended. Many independent journalists argue that the “Interaz” was created by Azerbaijani Shia religious entrepreneurs in Russia and had a bad reputation as “Iranian agents”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan advises citizens not to travel to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Ministry issued a statement: “Taking into account the unstable situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the terrorist act committed against the diplomatic representation of our country, citizens of Azerbaijan are advised not to visit this country unless it is necessary, and those who visit are advised to exercise a high degree of caution.”
Tofig Etibar oghlu Hasanov, who was appointed the head of the Penitentiary Service of Nakhchivan AR seven years ago by the former head of AR Vasif Talibov, and who was given the rank of Major General of Justice by president Ilham Aliyev, was arrested. He is accused of embezzlement of state funds and abuse of office.
According to the decision of the Council of Tariffs, fares of public transport in Azerbaijan (metro and buses in the city of Baku) were raised to 40 kopecks. In addition, the limit of the tariff is set at the level of 3 kopecks per kilometer on suburban and inter-town bus routes and intercity bus routes, depending on the distance. The decision enters into force on February 3, 2023.
Chairperson of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADWP) Gubad Ibadoghlu said that these new fares will be followed by a price rise in other fields as well. Ibadoghlu: Most likely, first of all, the cost of taxi and railway services will be raised, and gas and electricity tariffs of energy carriers will be raised as well. Despite the increase in oil and gas revenues, we will pay more for transportation.
Member REAL Party Natig Jafarli said that the government’s decision to create the Tariff Council twenty-one years ago was not accidental. “The approval of the first composition of the Tariff Council and the start of its activity was on January 31, 2002, by then Prime Minister Artur Rasizadeh’s decision No. 17. It is not a coincidence that such a senseless, hate-generating state body established on Mahammad Amin Rasulzade‘s birthday and today they increased the fares on transport on this very day.”
Members of the parliament- Milli Majlis– demanded that the journalist Mehman Huseynov should be held accountable for his mocking video about the MPs. Activist and blogger Mehman Huseynov shared a video in front of the Milli Majlis with four timbers criticizing the MPs for ignoring the complaints of their constituents. The video was viewed by hundreds of social media users, causing outrage among the MPs. Member of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party MP Elman Nasirov said that Huseynov should be held legally responsible. “Mehman Huseynov’s illegal actions should be evaluated on a legal base. He should be held legally responsible because this is a direct insult. Of course, there should be legal consequences. Otherwise, Mehman Huseynov‘s arbitrary actions will increase even more. I think that the law must show its power.”
February 3, 2023