Center for National and International Studies
“Lavrov’s official visit to Baku only serves to distance the country from peace, democracy and justice…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Jailed activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev stopped hunger strike after fifty days. His lawyer, Agil Lajic said that said Hajiyev had ended his hunger strike after taking into account public opinion and thanked everyone who supported him. Meanwhile, Baku Court of Appeals rejected Hajiyev’s appeal regarding the extension of the prison term and the change of the pretrial detention measure.
After Hajiyev’s personal correspondence has been shared on social networks the issue of privacy became the topic of debates. On social networks while many argued that Hajiyev must have been more careful the main criticism is directed at the state bodies that were supposed to protect citizens’ safety and privacy. While some experts believe that Hajiyevs messages and photos were collected and shared by hacking his accounts Elshad Hajiyev, head of the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, told Meydan TV that Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was invited to the Baku City Police Department along with his lawyer on the day of his arrest and at that time, he did not have any electronic device – mobile phone, tablet, computer – and his house and office were not searched: “These issues were not the subject of the investigation. He was taken to the court together with his lawyer, and after the court decision, he was transferred to the Baku Pretrial Detention Center. We categorically deny the allegations regarding the viewing or transfer of his personal belongings.” Elshad Hajiyev added that a complaint was received from several women and their family members to investigate the issue of the distribution of images and correspondence from Bakhtiyar Hajiyev‘s social media accounts.
Director of the “Defense Line” organization lawyer Rufat Safarov said that they are ready to defend the rights of the people whose conversations with Hajiyev were leaked. Safarov’s Facebook post: “We are also extremely concerned about the situation of women and families who have been shaken and are experiencing a severe crisis as a result of the information collected and disseminated by cybercrime. We fully support the defense of the violated rights of the victims. We are currently mobilizing our capabilities to provide legal and psychological support. If the victims accept, we are able to provide our legal services in every sense of the word. When Bakhtiyar Hajiyev is free, we will know the truth about the photos, videos and correspondence and which part of the information is true and which part is distorted. Our questions will be direct, we will hear the answers from him personally and judge the situation adequately.”
Political analysist Arastun Orujlu said that the law against cybercrime should be improved and the public as well should be on the side of the victims. “A little while ago, I spoke in detail about how the former Ministry of the security gang blackmailed state and government representatives and influenced their decisions with revealing materials in their hands. In that conversation, I suggested that we as a society should come to a certain compromise regarding revealing materials and first of all, we should oppose their distribution and circulation. We should not spread such things with any intention. Otherwise, the government, the state, and the people as a whole will remain under threats for a long time. I suggested that it is necessary to tighten the punishment measures for those who spread and share such things. Thus, it became clear that neither the authorities nor a significant part of the society is ready for any civil agreement and understanding in Azerbaijan.”
Religious activist Sabuhi Salimov, who was on hunger strike for 50 days, died in prison. Sabuhi Salimov, a participant in the First Karabakh War, was accused of spying for Iran and sentenced to 17 years in prison. He denied the allegations and went on a 50-day hunger strike to protest his illegal arrest. Salimov’s arrest coincided with a period of worsening Azerbaijan-Iran relations.
Member of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Elnur Hasanov who was sentenced to administrative detention for 30 days and was on hunger strike was released. However, Hasanov’s health suddenly deteriorated, and he was admitted to Sabunchu hospital.
Journalist Aygun Aliyeva, a former employee of “AzerTac” State Information Agency, attempted suicide. Before deciding to take her life, Aliyeva wrote about the reasons for taking this step on her Facebook page: “The culprit of my death is the Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan and specifically Ramiz Rzayev, the former head of “Azertac News Agency”, Aslan Aslanov, who embezzled millions of manats of state funds, and Vugar Aliyev, who continues the policy of looting. I tried. I tried to restore justice with the supreme court of my country…They tried to overshadow my honor and dignity. I don’t allow it. I have two daughters and their mother is a decent woman. They will not forgive me for leaving them. I know… May the perpetrators be punished…” Luckily Aliyeva was hospitalized and still recovering.
Alizamin Salayev, the chairman of the APFP Salyan branch, has been on hunger strike for 23 days, protesting against his imprisonment. Salayev had been jailed several times before for his political activism and served two years in prison. Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli demanded immediate release of all political prisoners and called on the Azerbaijani public “not to be indifferent to the fact people are arrested for their political opinions.
Governance and Corruption
At the press conference held in Baku, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Survey Lavrov said that “there is no plan to establish checkpoints in the corridor of Lachin.”. However, he added that the 100th anniversary of the former president Heydar Aliyev will be celebrated in Russia as well. Commenting on Lavrov’s statement Ali Karimli said that the main priority of the government is to cements its family rule not the national interests. “Isn’t this the main goal of the Azerbaijani authorities? The state interest of Azerbaijan has never been the main priority for the regime. The interest of the regime is the continuity of family rule. The Kremlin also supports this goal. The essence of the Azerbaijan-Russia “alliance” actually consists of the alliance of the regimes in Azerbaijan and Russia.”
Journalist Seymur Hezi said that having Lavrov on an official visit only serves to distance the country from peace, democracy and justice.
A new draft law “On Electric Power” was brought up for discussion in the Milli Majlis. If the law is adopted, “Azerishiq” will neither sell nor buy electricity, and will retain only the distribution function. Chairperson of Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADWP) the new law will not benefit the consumer on the long run. “Most likely, before starting the process of transferring the sale to the management of private companies, the energy sales tariffs will be raised, and the authorities will explain this by increasing investor interest. In the second stage, not healthy investors in the name of private companies, but the ruling family and their partners will be involved in this process, and then prices in the market will be liberalized, that is, energy sales prices will be increased and diversified in 2 stages. From this change, consumers can gain if quality service is provided in the sales market. Quality service can be provided only by companies operating in a competitive market. However, under the current conditions, they will not allow a company similar to Barmek to enter the market and then sue the authorities in court. Therefore, consumers are not expected to win, but to lose from the increase in tariffs. However, if the goal of the change is a healthy business that commits to investing, if competition is ensured in the market, this would be a step forward in the energy sector. But, as I am familiar with the nature of this government, I have no such expectations from them. I don’t believe in fairy tales either.”
Najib Osmanov, the financial attaché of the Azerbaijani embassy in South Korea, said in court hearing that that he spent an amount of ₼347,000 allocated for the embassy on betting games.
March 3, 2023