Center for National and International Studies
“We knew this, everyone knows that he is a thief!”
Governance, economy, corruption. In Azerbaijan, the week started with debates surrounding the documentary, that exposed large-scale corruption involving ruling Aliyev family. “Pandora Papers: Secret wealth and dealings of world leaders exposed” was aired on BBC on Sunday evening revealing the expensive property bought by the Aliyevs in London. Azadliq Radiosu (Radio Liberty) reports that BBC television has broadcast the first part of a documentary which was about the property worth 440 million £ that Ilham Aliyev’s family bought in London. The second part of the documentary is expected to be broadcasted on Monday. According to the Pandora Papers, Aliyev bought a property worth 33 million $ for his son who was 11 at the time of the purchase. Many Azerbaijani activists and former political prisoners took to Facebook to condemn the scandal involving the ruling family.
Tofig Yagublu wrote on his FB post that “Ilham Aliyev is a thief! We know this, like the rest of the world does.” Yagublu continues that it has been proven that Aliyev has stolen at least 50 billion $ from the Azerbaijani people so far and this figure increases as new facts are revealed with documents, evidences and photos. Yagublu concludes that, “despite all, of course, Ilham Aliyev will not hang himself with a rope around his neck, nor will he resign”. Interestingly, the Pandora Papers coincided with Aliyev’s two new appointees for chief executive positions, warning them not to take bribes, and if in case they do they would be held accountable.
Professor Altay Goyushov reflected his opinion on the ongoing debates around the recent corruption scandal with following remarks: Now that the West is arguing that your (Azerbaijani) government is corrupt, let’s face the fact that if in the West there was not a habit of receiving bribe, if there were not the ministers, leaders, deputies who would allow themselves to receive bribe no one would dare to make such an offer. What is the point of complaining? You are the ones who owns it. The blame is first and foremost should be on you. The alleged offshore system is set up in London. The corrupt (Azerbaijani) officials were people from the former Soviet Union, who knew nothing about offshore business. The closest thing they would know would be about the Swiss bank that they could only see in the movies. You (the West) have taught them and created favorable conditions for them to steal and transfer the money to the offshore business in London.
Opposition leader, professor Jamil Hasanli criticized Ilham Aliyev‘s yet another failed economic policy – cocoon policy. Hasanli mentioned that Aliyev told legends about the cocoon business and brought mulberry trees from China at a high price, yet this failed to bear any result.
Sevinj Osmangizi shared on her YouTube channel that the journalist Laurent Richard, who previously made a documentary about the Aliyev family made a new film. In 2018, Azerbaijan lost its defamation lawsuit against two journalists from the France 2 program Cash Investigation, Elise Lucet and Laurent Richard. Osmangizi reports that, Laurent Richard’s new documentary Caviar Connection will expose the corrupt affairs of Azerbaijani government.
Human Rights and Liberties. Ganimat Zahidov shared on his FB post that a prisoner named Murad Ashrafov was transferred from Prison No. 6 to 17. Shakir Ganiyev, official at the prison tortured and brutally beat Ashrafov report the relatives of the prison.
Gultekin Hajibeyli expressed her concerns as the number of the cases of violence against women increases. A woman who was physically abused by her husband, who is a policeman, went to the police office to make complaints. The incident took a tragic turn as the policeman comes to the police station where his wife was making complaints and he shoot her with a service weapon. Hajibeyli also condemns the silence of the media outlets. She noted that every time there is a homicide against woman, except few, majority of media representatives stays silent and the public unfortunately blames the women not the police, not the men. It seems there is a new trend among our policemen and judges- kill the wife, continues Hajibeyli. Hajibeyli sees the roots of domestic violence in the poor economic situation and political system that incites violence. Hajibeyli states that at work, men are humiliated on daily basis by their employers and they do not have the courage to protest against those who humiliate them, spit on their identities. Instead, they go home to vent their anger on their wives and children. How one can live in a country where a judge kills his wife in front of his children and a policeman kills his wife in a police station…
Women members of National Front held a protest in front of the Republic Prosecutor’s Office demanding the release of Niyameddin Ahmedov, who was arrested by bogus charges. The police treated them brutally and some were injured. Tofig Yagublu noted that, after keeping the women in the police station for a long time, they took them to the outskirts of the city, dropped them on the plain fields and fled. As you can see, Ilham Aliyev‘s struggle against the opposition is not only illegal and cruel, but also very immoral says Yagublu.
Sevinc Osmangizi reports that PACE will appoint a rapporteur on the Tartar case and Pegasus. Moreover, Osmangizi shared a new investigative research done by journalist Mehman Huseynov. The New research uncovers an Azerbaijani minister’s son luxurious yachts on the coasts of Monaco and France.
Post-conflict situation. Azadliq Radiosu reports a case of a war veteran. According to the family of the former soldier, they wanted to build a house with the disability money given to their son, however, the officials demanded bribed in return. Agazadeh Ilham is a veteran of the Second Karabakh War who was enlisted in the army and four months later, when the war broke out, he volunteered. He fought in Aghdam, Khojavend and was wounded in the battle in Fizuli where shrapnel hit both his legs and arm. Despite the efforts of the Agazade’s family the were denied to construct a house unless they pay the illegal fees.
Seymur Hazi noted in his FB post that for so long he and opposition leader kept saying that democracy has nothing to do with the Karabakh problem. Hazi writes: But government spokesmen tried to justify the otherwise. Now that Ilham Aliyev says the Karabakh problem has been resolved, well, then where is democracy? Where is the transition to democracy? Where are the human rights? Why is the issue of political prisoners unresolved? Why are pensions not increased? Why there are no reforms in the social sphere? Why 200,000 people’s pensions were cut? If you say that there is no Karabakh problem, then start talk about the solution of these problems.
Social issues. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev used his FB platform to shed light on an issue which he calls “a matter of security”. Referring to the current economic situation, Hajiyev argues that Azerbaijan’s security is at risk. Hajiyev asks whether current unbearable economic difficulties can result in anonymous people abroad, giving 100-200, 300-500 manats to a needy citizens in return of placing a suspicious packages anywhere in the city that could be explosives; Is there a guarantee that the person who brings drugs into the country, or who produces them in the country, will not produce explosives and bring them to the country, and will not deliver them to any place with those couriers? Hajiyev notes that the heads of law enforcement agencies are so busy with monitoring the opposition that foreign individuals now easily have couriers operating suspiciously. Moreover Hajiyev also draws attention to another issues. According to Hajiyev’s FB post, Ministry of social welfare sends link with job offers via SMS in order not to give 190 manats to the unemployed. However, no one who received the message could open the link, and within 5 days, “unemployed people who did not choose the offered job” automatically lost their status of unemployed and became job seekers. Today it became known that the same messages were sent to many unemployed citizens, but none of them managed to open the link. I also checked, but it did not open. This is a fraud against citizens at the state level. It’s a shame, in a country rich in oil, where the billionaires officials use tricks to avoid giving 190 manats to a citizen for a few months.
Relations with Iran. Activists of the Nationalist Youth Organization, protested in front of the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran yesterday, were forcibly detained this morning. Alparslan Ozturk, Togrul Amiraslan, Zakir Karimli and Mushvig Valiyev were fined 100 manat under Article 510 of the Code of Administrative Offenses. There was no violence against activists during their detention. Several independent media outlets reported that a group of young activists placed three aftabehs (pitcher) in the color of Iranian flags in front of the Iranian embassy as a protest against Iranian government.
Ramis Yunus noted that the Second Karabakh war and the victory of Azerbaijan turned out to be the very litmus test, which clearly showed who is really Azerbaijan’s friend and who is the enemy and the last militant demarches of Iran on the Azerbaijani-Iranian border and anti-Azerbaijani rhetoric in the Iranian media are another confirmation of this. Yunus conluded his remarks as follows: Azerbaijan’s response should be consolidated and multi-stage – from officials to representatives of Azerbaijani society. A very serious game is going on in the region and we must always remember about the fifth column in our society, which acts in the interests of Moscow and Tehran.
Professor Altay Goyushov touched upon the issue from a historical point of view highlighting the differences between the two nations’ historical identities. According to Goyushov, the only way to eliminate the enmity between Azerbaijan and Iran is to turn them into a secular liberal-democratic state that recognizes and protects free elections, the rule of law, and the rights of religious, national and sexual minorities. Only such a liberal-democratic state, even if it does not solve all the problems, opens mechanisms for a humane approach to both internal and external contradictions.
Situation in Georgia. The arrest of former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili in Rustavi stirred the debates about the future of democracy in the region. Journalist in exile, Afgan Mukhtarli referring to Georgian government wrote in his FB post that “a government that does not know about Saakashvili‘s arrival for 3 days cannot stay in power.” The man (Saakashvili) is back for the revolution and I’m sure there will be a change” concluded Mukhtarli. Tofig Yagublu also expressed his opinion on Saakashvili’s arrest by saying that he doesn’t think the Georgian government will be able to keep him in prison for long. For long term, this can give impetus to the process of democratization in the region. “Saakashvili is the brightest face among the leaders of post-Soviet states” concluded Yagublu.
October 4, 2021