Center for National and International Studies
“The military victory was achieved at the expense of the lives and health of such brave and professional army men. Leaving our veterans in such a helpless situation is ungrateful and an injustice that neither God nor people will accept.”
Governance, economy, corruption, transparency
Azadlig Newspaper reports that social protection expenditures have been reduced, and money allocated to law enforcement agencies has been increased. Expenditures in the state budget for social welfare in 2022 are 3.4% less than this year. In next year’s budget, these expenditures will amount to 3.566 billion manats or 11.9% of the budget. However, expenditures for the maintenance of the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, and the prosecutor’s office in next year’s budget are 2.362 billion manats, which is 12.9% more than the current year. About 23% of next year’s budget will be spent on defense and national security, the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, and the prosecutor’s office, amounting to 6.852 billion manats. Of this, 2.89 billion manats alone are defense and national security expenditures.
Meydan TV reports that US President Joe Biden plans to hold a virtual summit on democracy on December 9-10. Politico published a list of countries invited to the Summit. The list, which does not include Azerbaijan and Turkey, includes Armenia and Georgia. Talking to Sevinc Osmangizi, former political prisoner Tofig Yagublu said that even if Aliyev was invited to the Summit, he wouldn’t have much to say on democracy. Yagublu asked whether Aliyev would talk about how he has appointed his wife as the vice president.
Activist Rabiyya Mammedova reacted to the arrest of the former chairman of Binagadi municipality Aytaj Aliyeva. Mammedova wrote on her FB that the residents of the Binagadi said that Aytaj Aliyeva would show her photo with Mehriban Aliyeva to the complainants, saying that she is a close friend of the first lady and she backs her activities. Former chairman of Binagadi municipality, deputy chairman of the YAP Youth Organization Aytaj Aliyeva, and her sister were was detained by law enforcement agencies on suspicion of fraud. The sisters are accused of fraudulently selling gold and forging documents on behalf of the municipality to sell land. Altogether, the former chairman of the ruling party’s Youth Organization has embezzled 389,000 manats.
Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev reacted to the ruling family’s illegal properties in the UK with sarcasm. Hajiyev wrote: The Bank of England will issue a series of £700 banknotes to commemorate the investments made by Azerbaijani government officials by purchasing real estate worth $700 million, to engrave this example of national and cultural heritage into memories and to inform the international community. The commemorative banknote will have the “London is Azerbaijan!” slogan written on it.”
Human Rights and Liberties.
Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli reports that Malik Rzayev, who was arrested after being deported from Germany, is denied to see his lawyer Nemat Karimli. Yesterday, Karimli wanted to meet with Malik Rzayev in Shuvalan, and he was told that Rzayev had been taken to the Sumgayit police station. However, later during the day, they called the lawyer and said that he was in Shuvalan. Today, the lawyer went to Shuvalan again, and it turned out that he was sent to Sumgayit in the morning without informing his lawyer. The lawyer has not been allowed to see him for a week. Mukhtarli added that “apparently, Malik was subjected to terrible torture, and the authorities are waiting for the traces of torture to disappear before they let him meet his lawyer.” Two days ago, Mutallim Orujov stated in the Court of Appeal that he had been subjected to horrific torture by the Guba police. Orujov is a political activist deported from Germany. He is a member of the PFPA. Mukhtarli concluded that the German embassy in Baku should intervene.
Azadliq Newspaper reports that Ali Aliyev, chairman of the Citizens and Development Party, and Elchin Rahimzade, editor-in-chief of Boomerang TV, were recently arrested on bogus charges. According to the newspaper, a search was carried out at the house of Elchin Rahimzade and at the headquarters of the CD party. Rooms and belongings of Boomerang TV were destroyed at the headquarters of the party.
Political prisoner, a veteran of the First Karabakh War Saleh Rustamli, has started a hunger strike in prison. The statement came from human rights activist Rufat Safarov. Activist Nigar Hezi reports that Saleh Rustamli was sentenced to 7 years and three months on false charges. He has been in prison for almost four years already. He has been on hunger strike since yesterday in protest of his unlawful arrest. “Saleh Rustami and other political prisoners were arrested on the direct order of Ilham Aliyev. It is Ilham Aliyev who is responsible for their lives. I demand the release of all political prisoners,” said Hezi.
Economy and Social Issues. Member of NCDF Gultakin Hajibeyli wrote in her FB post that the state budget for 2022 will have a reduced amount for social protection expenditures, while law enforcement expenditures, fines, and duties will be increased. Hajibeyli added: They cut the pensions, benefits, salaries of the poor to increase the already high salaries of police, prosecutors, and judges by charging us more so that the police can hit us harder, arrest innocent people with greater enthusiasm, and confiscate their property. They do it so to make us say with great helplessness and humility that “you see what they do to those who raise their voices,? they destroy them, arrest them, what can we do ?!” It is as simple as that.”
Reacting to the next year’s budget, the member of PFP Fuad Gahramanli said that Azerbaijan is no longer a welfare state. Gahramanli wrote: They (government) cut off the social benefits to give to law enforcement agencies. In the next year’s budget, social welfare expenditures were reduced by 3.4%, while the cost of law enforcement agencies will be increased by 12.9%.”
The opposition leader Ali Karimli once again called on his followers to be more persistent in the demands of child benefits. Karimli wrote: Dear compatriots, let’s admit that we still do not demand child support as much as required. It is not enough to support by circulating articles, calls, and requests for child support. Everyone who considers it necessary for the state to provide child support should at least write and talk about it on social networks, share and circulate calls on this issue. The regime must see that the will of millions is indeed behind this demand. Unfortunately, the government does not provide child support in the next year’s budget. There are only a few days left before the budget is approved. We must make the most of every day and explain to the government that the demand for child benefits is a nationwide demand so that our demand for child benefits will not be ineffective for another year.”
Ali Karimli also reacted to the increasing oil prices saying that “although due to the increase in oil and gas prices alone, the country received an additional 7.3 billion manat in the first nine months of this year, the government raised the, increased taxes, duties, and fines.” Karimli also criticized the government’s ineffective social policies. To elaborate more on the increased prices, Karimli wrote: Last night, the temperature in Baku dropped to 5 degrees. It will be 6 degrees tonight. The temperature in the following days will be law as well. However, there is no central heating system in the apartment buildings, and they (government) cut off social expenses to “save” the budget in order to then steal it and take it offshore…No matter how high the price is, the apartments and villas of the corrupt officials will be heated. However, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of families cannot afford to heat their homes with gas and electricity at current prices. They do not heat their apartments, so they can save on the bills, and eventually, they get sick. For some time now, the daily rate of infection with COVID-19 has exceeded 2,000. Other seasonal diseases are rampant. Poor people are left alone with colds and diseases. Drug prices also rose by 42 percent this year. Would a government be so cruel to its own people?… At the very least, turn on the central heating system. Cancel the increase in gas and electricity prices so that the people can survive this winter! Do not test people’s patience with cold and bread!”
Post War situation. The situation of war veterans.
On the eve of the first anniversary since the war of last year, political activists and public figures are polarized: the first group over glorify the victory in Karabakh, giving full credit to the president Aliyev while disregarding the sacrifices made by the citizens; the second group of activists calls on government to give deserved acknowledgment to the participants of the war and be more attentive to the needs of war veterans. The head of PFP, Ali Karimli, addressed his followers on this occasion: Those who put the brave Karabakh veterans in such a helpless and desperate situation are dishonest people. The military victory was also achieved at the expense of the lives and health of such brave and professional army men. Leaving our helpless veterans in such a hopeless situation is ungrateful and an injustice that neither God nor people will accept. Provide the veterans with the well-deserved benefits!”
Gubad Ibadoghlu wrote on Fb that “although one year has passed since the war, the victory is celebrated, the public still has doubts about the complete victory of Azerbaijan.” Pointing out to the unsolved disputes over certain areas in Karabakh, Ibadoghlu wrote: “Because the past year was not enough to clarify the uncertainties. It is unknown how long the Russian army will remain in our territory, when the longing for Khankendi, Khojaly, Khojavend, Aghdara will end, and when we will settle in the villages of Lachin and Shusha.”
November 8, 2021