Center for National and International Studies
“It is a very profitable business both for corrupt officials and the government of England: the corrupt officials steal billions from Azerbaijani people; the British government confiscates one-third of the money, and the corrupt officials keep the rest two-third. And this way, all sides win except the Azerbaijani people.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Azadliq newspaper reports that at least four political activists deported from Germany in recent months have been arrested. Punhan Karimov, a member of the Khatai district branch of the Popular Front Party, was arrested on trumped-up drug charges after being deported to Azerbaijan from Germany. Earlier, APFP member Mutallim Oruj, activists Malik Rzayev and Jafar Mirzayev, who were deported from Germany, were arrested on similar charges shortly after their return to Azerbaijan.
Jalil Zabidov, a member of the Democracy 1918 Movement, was administratively detained for 25 days under Article 535.1 of the Criminal Procedure Code by the decision of the Yardimli District Court. He was critical of the government’s politics on social media.
Political prisoner Niyamaddin Ahmadov was tortured severely to read a fake statement against the chairman of APFP Ali Karimli. Karimli wrote in his FB post that Ahmadov was forced to read the statement in front of a camera. Journalist Seymur Hezi wrote that “on the day of national youth day, the trial of Niyamaddin Ahmadov is very symbolic, showing where the Aliyev regime wants to see the activist young people.”
Governance, corruption, transparency
This week another corruption scandal made the headlines. Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) revealed that “the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) with another subsidiary together stood to siphon off more than $1.7 billion from the Shah Deniz 2 project using padded contracts and artificial charges.” Moreover, the study by the OCCRP on BP’s activities in the Shah Deniz-2 project found that “one company contracted by Bos Shelf to kill stray dogs near the development charged 460 manats ($270) per animal, which was around the same as a month’s salary for a factory worker at the time.” OCCRP’s website is blocked in Azerbaijan following the publication of the report.
A London court has recently ruled to confiscate millions of dollars belonging to the family of Azerbaijani MP Javanshir Feyziyev. Following the investigation of the British National Crime Agency, 5.6 million pounds in the bank accounts of Javanshir Feyziyev‘s family members were confiscated. Javanshir Feyziyev is a member of the Azerbaijani Parliament and co-chair of the UK-Azerbaijan Interparliamentary Cooperation Committee. All family members claimed that their wealth came from Javanshir Feyziyev‘s legitimate business, which he used to pay for his family’s multimillion-pound home on Cumberland Terrace near Regents Park. District Judge John Zani ordered the confiscation of £ 5,630,994.19 of the £ 15.3 million held in the frozen bank accounts of the family, based on ample evidence that the documents submitted to the court were completely fabricated and prepared to conceal money laundering activities.
Chairman of ADWP professor Gubad Ibadoghlu reacted to the corruption scandal, saying that similar corruption cases will come to the surface as the investigations progress. “Pensioners and low-income families could hardly save money which they spent on poor quality medicine, while a group of people illegally transfer large sums of money to their accounts in London.”
Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli argued that while the country is plundered, it is a very profitable business both for corrupt officials and the government of England. Mukhtarli wrote: The corrupt officials steal billions from Azerbaijani people. The British government confiscates one-third of the money, and they keep the rest two-third. And this way, all sides win except the Azerbaijani people.” Mukhtarli also added that “while our billions are seized by the foreign governments, our veterans commit suicide due to economic hardships, children are not paid child benefits, pensions are cut, and utility costs are rising.” “We are slaves who pay for the pandemic costs of Europe while being silent and not demanding our rights,” concluded Mukhtarli.
Head of NCDF professor Jamil Hasanli reacted to the corruption scandal, saying that there is a well-coordinated system of corruption in the country. Hasanli wrote: Because there is no secret thievery or corruption in our country. There is coordinated thievery, networked corruption, and it is headed by Ilham Aliyev. This is a system established by Ilham Aliyev. Javanshir Feyziyev is also one of the leading managers of the Aliyev family’s drug business (actually the drug mafia).”
Chairman of ADWP professor Gubad Ibadoghlu argued that in case of the government’s failure to take action against Feyziyev, it would be a clear indication of collaboration between Feyziyev and the ruling family. Ibadoghlu wrote: If the Prosecutor General’s Office does not open a criminal case against MP Javanshir Feyziyev, if the Milli Majlis does not remove him from the chairmanship of the UK-Azerbaijan, EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, if the “voters” of the 2nd constituency of 115 Sheki village do not recall him, then Feyziyev is a political ally of the ruling family, a partner in dirty business and corruption, and the confiscated money belongs to the Aliyevs.”
Tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine
A group of Azerbaijani activists has established the Support Platform for Democracy in Ukraine. “As citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan, we are closely following the historical process taking place around Ukraine with deep concern, and we understand our responsibility to humanity at a fateful time for the world,” the platform said in a statement.
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli shared his opinion on the possibility of war. Gahramanli wrote: “The crisis in Ukraine, regardless of the reaction of Azerbaijani leadership, will leave the country in a challenging situation to make geopolitical choices. If there will be a war, tough sanctions against Russia and a clear position on Europe’s energy security will be required. The statement of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Azerbaijan’s closest ally, that “we will abide by whatever NATO’s decision is” shows that in this case, Azerbaijan will have to take into account this reality and make its geopolitical choice accordingly. If Putin refuses to intervene in Ukraine, then NATO will continue to expand, and Russia will be pushed back from post-soviet areas. In this case, Azerbaijan will again face crucial choices between expanding NATO, the EU, and Russia. We must not forget that the crisis in Ukraine is not only a matter of European security but also a process of geopolitical competition.”
According to the Caspian Military Research Institute, since the end of the Second Karabakh War, the causalities of the Azerbaijani Army exceeded 110 people. Fifteen of them were killed during combats with the Armenian army, ten due to mine explosions, and the rest 85 died in non-combat incidents. Most of the incidents have been confirmed by the Defense Ministry and other law enforcement agencies.
According to independent journalists, the Russian peacekeepers together with the Armenian soldiers check the cars going from Aghdara to Kalbajar. Head of APFP Ali Karimli called it open defiance against Azerbaijan and added that “the president Aliyev has no right to remain silent about this humiliation.”
Azadliq newspaper reports that war veteran Rizvan Garayev’s status of disability was changed, and his pension was suspended without a prior medical examination. Garayev complained about the indifference of government agencies.
Economic and Social Situation
On the day of Youth Day in Azerbaijan, journalist Mehman Huseynov touched upon the socio-economic and political challenges that the youth faces. Huseynov wrote: In Azerbaijan, young people are servants with degrees, those who can leave the country emigrates, those with music education give concerts at subway crossings to make ends meet, young professionals are waiting for seasonal jobs on the roadside, or in the slave market, young people who demand their rights are in prisons, and healthy young people struggle with drug addiction. Today is Youth Day in the country, and where is the government’s youth policy? This government only values young people who flatter their masters cowardly in black suits. And today (Youth Day) was created just for those slave, flattering, cowardly young people. I am not one of those young people. Therefore, this youth day has no importance to me.”
February 4, 2022