Center for National and International Studies
“The system is built in such a way that Ilham Aliyev personally controls all the wealth of this country, and not a single manat can be withdrawn without his permission…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Journalist Hebib Muntazir reports that the employees of the Yasamal District prevented war veteran Vugar Azizov, from selling fruits and vegetables in front of his kiosk in Yeni Yasamal district. They told Azizov that the goods he sold blocked the pavement, to which Azizov responded that the small business was his only source of income. In protest against the actions of the authorities, Azizov set himself on fire and is currently in the hospital.
Muntazir also reported that the schoolchildren in Sabirabad protested against the lack of a heating system in their school by making a flash mob “We are freezing in the cold”. There are numerous complaints from rural districts and villages about gas shortages, and in many places, the residents have to cut down forests to heat their houses. The news surfaced at the time when president Ilham Aliyev stated that Azerbaijan would provide Europe with gas and energy. “According to official figures, among the post-Soviet countries, Azerbaijan is the only country that exports natural gas and sells it to its population at the highest price”, added Muntazir.
According to Meydan TV, 19-year-old Elnur Mammadov, a resident of Nadil village in Goygol, a soldier of the Azerbaijan Army, died in unknown circumstances in the military unit in Lachin. Some sources argue that the soldier committed suicide. However, according to Firad Aliyev, the senior assistant of the military prosecutor, the chief judicial advisor, Elnur Mammadov, a soldier of the military unit of the Ministry of Defense, died of a firearm injury. The Gubadli District Military Prosecutor’s Office inspected the scene and the body, and a criminal case was opened under the relevant article of the Criminal Code. Aliyev added that the investigation is ongoing, and all measures will be taken in accordance with the requirements of the legislation.
Governance and Corruption
The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic has been seeing a surge of political corruption cases in recent days. Another corruption scandal has been exposed involving the head of the AR. According to the press close to the government, the head of AR, Vasif Talibov has embezzled 30 billion manats allocated from the state budget for the AR. Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli commented on the news, saying that this is only a small portion of a much bigger problem. Karimli’s Facebook post: “If 30 billion manats were indeed embezzled in Nakhchivan under Talibov’s leadership, how many billion manats could be embezzled by the Azerbaijani authorities on a national scale? When calculating, take into account that only 1/25 of the population of Azerbaijan lives in Nakhchivan. Also keep in mind that Nakhchivan is one of the poorest regions of Azerbaijan. Year after year, a subsidy is allocated to Nakhchivan from the Azerbaijani budget. Oil and gas, which are the most important resources of the country, are located around Baku, while Nakhchivan lacks such important resources. Moreover, the state budget is distributed by the Azerbaijani authorities. State companies that manage and waste billions are also located in Baku. Besides the oil and gas industry, a huge construction site that makes billions is also in Baku. Taxes, customs, communications, transport, emergencies, tourism, trade, banks, insurance companies, agro holdings, and other large holdings are also under the direct control of Baku – the regime leaders. All this should be taken into account during the calculation.”
Journalist Seymur Hezi said that the responsibility lies with the head of the government, who has the duty to ensure transparent expenditure of state funds. Hezi wrote: When it gets cold, I think of older people who can’t turn on electricity for even two hours, parents who can’t feed their children, children who can’t go to schools without a heating system because they don’t have warm clothes. And on the other hand, there is Vasif Talibov, who stole 30 billion from subsidies given by the orders of Ilham Aliyev. All of this is a political problem, the responsibility is political, and in such a super-presidential country, Ilham Aliyev, who helped Talibov to steal billions with a single signature, and left the pensioners in need of 244 manats, is the cause and responsible for all of them.”
Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu also blamed the president, adding that without Aliyev’s knowledge and support, no one could dare to steal such a huge amount of money. Yagublu: “Not only 34 billion, but even 34 million cannot be stolen without the help of Ilham Aliyev. Yes, it happened not just with his knowledge but also with his help! Let’s say you can climb over the fence and steal a couple of fruits from the garden, and the guard doesn’t know about it, and you take ten boxes of fruit from the same garden, and the guard still won’t know about it? Consider that there is only one way to enter, which is also the exit of the garden by truck, and the guard’s booth is located on that road. Of course, the guard is involved in this. The system is built in such a way that Ilham Aliyev personally guards all the money of this country, and not a single manat can be withdrawn without his permission. If Ilham Aliyev personally allocates the money for the construction or repair of the 1.3-kilometer road between the villages of Incaoglu and Shamshioglu (the names are not real), how can he be excluded from the responsibility of 34 billion manats? One of the main functions of the head of the country is to protect the people’s money and control its spending. Didn’t Ilham Aliyev say that he would take measures against the illegal actions of officials? During these years, Ilham Aliyev, together with Vasif Talibov, engaged in the destruction of whistleblowers from Nakhchivan and turned the autonomous republic into North Korea. Even after this scandal, he will talk about the “bad” deeds of the APF-Musavat government.”
“We regret that the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation ignored our appeals.” These were stated in the press release of the Ministry of Defense. “Once again, we inform you that it is not allowed to use “the fictitious Armenian toponyms, including the use of the “Nagorno-Karabakh territory” for our residential areas in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the statement included. The Ministry called on the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation not to use “incorrect expressions” when mentioning the names of the territories of Azerbaijan in their official information. In the official information of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation, published on the official website of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the names of the settlements in the Karabakh region were given in their Armenian version, which caused the objection of the Azerbaijani side, demanding the peacekeeping contingent to use the Azerbaijani names.
Azerbaijan issued a statement against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Aykhan Hajizade, the head of the press service department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the illegal crossing of the citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the territories of Azerbaijan was the main reason for the statement: “Any foreign visit to the territories of Azerbaijan must be carried out in accordance with the rules established within the framework of national legislation, principles of sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Regarding the news about the illegal crossing of the citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran to our territories, a corresponding note was sent to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Azerbaijan in order to clarify the information. At the moment, we are waiting for a response from the other side regarding the issue.” According to the statement, 14 Iranian citizens entered the territory of Azerbaijan, where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily located, outside the border crossing points established by the law. Iran has not yet responded to the allegations.
The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan has sent a group of specialists for the purpose of monitoring the areas where the Russian peacekeepers are said to be temporarily stationed. According to the ministry, it has detected the illegal exploitation of mineral resources by Armenians in Karabakh that causes environmental damage. The part of the Lachin-Shusha-Khankendi highway passing through the Dashalti region was closed. Discussions are underway between the Azerbaijani side and the Russian peacekeeping forces.
Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party issued a statement on the new draft Law on Political Parties”. The Statement reads: “We, – the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party, – declare that the draft Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On Political Parties” adopted in the first reading in the Milli Majlis on November 29, 2022, is against to the course of democratization and integration into the developed modern world and the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Taking into account that the country’s legislation does not meet the requirements of international conventions on human rights and freedoms and that the requirements that completely limit political activity and political pluralism reflected in the project are not in line with the state’s interests, we want to draw attention to the fact that the norms in the Law stem from the desire to serve the dominant position of the ruling party over the rest of the political parties. Considering the guarantee of human freedoms, the democratization of society, and the formation of the rule of law in the country as a priority from the point of view of the state interest, we invite the political parties, civil society and media organizations, and the deputies of the Milli Majlis not to vote for this project, but to unite in the fight against the adoption of this law.”
December 6, 2022