Center for National and International Studies
“If you do not give at least a bit of oil money to the people, it will not end well…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Gafil Jafarov, a member of the Sabirabad branch of the Popular Front Party, was summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office. Recently several members of the Party were called to the police for openly expressing their critical views on social media. Moreover, last week, the Jalilabad District Court, chaired by Judge Galib Pashayev, launched a criminal investigation into blogger Samaddin Mammadov and his two sons, Mammadov Elsevar and Mammadov Nahid.
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev’s mobile number was blocked by the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport. Hajiyev wrote on his FB page that the GSM operator Azercell has officially informed him about it. Hajiyev’s FB post reads: “When I was in Horadiz, my internet was cut off, I thought the data package was over, I ordered a new package, I received information that “you have unused internet on your balance”. I did not have access to the internet until I reached Sabirabad. I called Azercell, and they said that as I was near the liberated territories, my number’s internet service was blocked by the ministry in the vicinity of those territories.” Hajiyev added that if his complaint is not considered, he will take the case against the ministry and the GSM to the European Court.
Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli reported that he had sent an inquiry to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Baku regarding the activists who were arrested after being deported from Germany. Mukhtarli added that neither his nor Meydan TV’s inquiries were responded.
Firuza Aydin gyzy Aliyeva has officially applied for an old-age pension and was told that she has been receiving a disability pension for 17 years due to her visual impairment. However, Aliyeva said that her health is in good condition, and she has never applied for disability pension. She was told that there was a woman living in Lerik with the same name, surname, and paternal name, who has been retired for 17 years.
Governance, corruption, transparency
During president Aliyev’s visit to Ganja, decorative trees were put on the sidewalks, which later were removed as soon as Aliyev left Ganja. Social media users were of the opinion that this was done by the chief executive of Ganja Niyazi Bayramov to create a false image of development and that the artificial trees were placed there only for the sake of appearance. Head of APFP Ali Karimli reacted to the incident adding that the Aliyev regime is based on fraud. Karimli wrote: If Aliyev did not know about this trickery, which is known to everyone, it is indeed very bad because it means the country is not governed well. But, if Aliyev was aware of it (and he was), and he covers up the fraud of this magnitude, then he admits that fraud is not the will of any chief executive, but the basis of his regime.” The video of the trees being removed and assembled in the car caused discussions on social media. Investigative journalist Mehman Huseynov added that Niyazi Bayramov’s son, who is in charge of the wood business in Ganja, runs a D’Lite restaurant in Baku worth 1 million manats, and Bayramov’s daughter has bought a villa in France for 30 million manats. The Ganja executive power issued a statement saying that the trees were removed because they did not adapt to the area.
During a meeting with young people, Ilham Aliyev attacked “fake news” by referring to a photo of Armenian PM Pashinyan with George Soros, which was proved to be fake. In the original photo, the person standing next to George Soros is former Northern Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. The photo was taken during the 2019 Davos Economic Forum. Pashinyan, whose name is often associated with Soros, said he had never met George Soros. President Aliyev often calls Soros a “behind-the-scenes organizer” of popular protests. Meanwhile, activists shared Aliyev’s photo with Soros which was taken in January of 2015. Head of NCDF professor Jamil Hasanli said that both Ilham Aliyev and his father, former president Heydar Aliyev had numerous meetings with Soros, and as a result of these negotiations with the direct consent of the Aliyevs, the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute began operating in Azerbaijan in 1999. Hasanli added that the office of the Foundation in Baku was housed in a separate five-storey building and operated there until 2014. Hasanli argued that the relations between Soros and Aliyev worsened only after Soros’ advise to Aliyev that “if you do not give a bit of the oil money to the people, it will not end well.”
Zakir Sultanov, former head of the State Service for Protection, Development and Restoration of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison, told during court hearing that he had personally given bribe to the former Minister of Culture Abulfas Garayev in his office. “I gave 360,000 manat bribe in connection with the repair and conservation of the tomb of “Allah-Allah” in Barda to former Minister of Culture Abulfas Garayev in his office”, said Sultanov. Sultanov added that this was only one of many instances in which the former minister received large amount of money in the form of bribe as part of reconstruction projects.
Meydan TV reports that stray dogs were killed en masse in Ganja. It is alleged that this was done by representatives of the city executive power. The dogs were thrown into one of the dumps in the city. Mass keeling of stray animals is a regular practice that contradicts the international conventions to which Azerbaijan is a party. The Ganja District Executive Power has not made any comment on the issue.
Azadliq newspaper reports that Matanat Mammadova, the principal of Asagi Kasaman secondary school in Agistafa district, demanded teacher Vusala Mammadova pay a bribe of AZN 100 per month for extra hours. When Vusala Mammadova refused to do so, saying she could not afford the requested amount, the director was physically aggressive towards Mammadova and threatened to punish her if she talked about it.
Member of Milli Majlis Eldaniz Salimov’s mandate was revoked for “insulting the police”, and he was arrested. Blogger Mehman Huseynov reacted to his arrest asking why the same treatment was not given to Javanshir Feyziyev, a member of parliament from Sheki, who has been the central figure of the recent corruption scandals. Huseynov wrote: “ Feyziyev looted the state budget, stole the wealth of the people and took millions to London, but they did nothing to him. He is still a member of the Milli Majlis and is free. Why do you think so? I am very interested in why the Azerbaijani government protects the thief in office but punishes those who speak against the police?”
February 8, 2022