Center for National and International Studies
“The dismissal of Elchin Sadigov from the Bar Association is a preparation for a new wave of arrests…”
(Lack of ) Human Rights and Freedoms
Elchin Sadigov, a lawyer renowned for his advocacy on behalf of political activists and independent journalists, has been temporarily suspended from the Bar Association, along with two other unidentified lawyers. The Bar Association released a statement acknowledging the suspension of three lawyers, but did not disclose their identities. The suspension of Elchin Sadigov‘s professional activities stemmed from a complaint filed by Eynulla Fatullayev, the head of the pro-governmental website “haggin.az.” Fatullayev lodged the complaint with the Bar Association in September 2022, alleging that 20,000 manats had been extorted from the family of Rasim Mammadov, the former head of Baku Steel Company LLC, and transferred to Avaz Zeynalli, the imprisoned head of the Khural.com website. Elchin Sadigov firmly asserted that Eynulla Fatullayev lacked the right to file such a complaint and that there were no grounds for accepting it for consideration: “According to the universally recognized right of appeal, individuals have the right to challenge cases that violate their rights and affect their interests. Furthermore, the Bar Association’s Presidium should not have entertained this ‘complaint’ as the relevant case is currently under investigation by the prosecutor’s office.” In recent days, Elchin Sadigov has informed the public, highlighting the escalating persecution and pressures being imposed upon him.
Afgan Mukhtarli, an exiled journalist, expressed his viewpoint that the dismissal of Elchin Sadigov from the Bar Association serves as a warning sign of future political repressions. “The removal of Elchin Sadigov from the Bar Association is a preparation for a new wave of arrests. This decision is undoubtedly a political decision and it will not stop with Elchin. It aligns with a broader pattern of regressive legislation targeting the press, political parties. Ilham (Aliyev) is determined to suppress dissent and silence all voices of opposition. It aims to minimize appeals to the press, political parties, NGOs, legal protection and finally the European Court. They carry out their cunning intentions in a planned manner. We are losing our last strongholds. After that, we have no place to defend. We must resist. If we do not resist, we will not find a lawyer to defend ourselves when we are arrested tomorrow. There are already 2-3 lawyers left.”
On July 5, the Chief Public Security Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) responded to the information request sent by political activist Ruslan Izzatli to the minister regarding the police brutality in Soyudlu village of Gadabay. Ruslan Izzatli inquired whether any legal action was taken regarding the policemen who used pepper spray against elderly women in the village of Soyudlu on June 20. In response to the inquiry, the Chief Public Security Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs reminded that trainings were conducted with personnel to improve their behavior in extreme situations. The organization said that in recent years, the police showed a civilized and restrained attitude towards the participants, who were distinguished by their aggressiveness in the rallies. “However, sometimes defects and deficiencies are recorded,” the official response emphasized. At the same time, it is noted that individual employees committed violations in the performance of their functional duties: “Continuous organizational and practical measures are being taken to prevent these situations from recurring in the future.” Ruslan Izzateli believes that the MIA did not answer the information request sufficiently and violated the law. “Even though my request was answered, the information I requested was not provided, it was illegally hidden. In the response to the request, it is stated that “permanent organizational and practical work is being done to prevent those situations from recurring in the future. What is this organizational-practical work? It seems clear that no action has been taken and they have not been punished,” Izzateli told Meydan TV.
Jeyhun Mubariz oglu Zeynalov, a veteran of the second Karabakh war, protested in front of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, demanding the social care he was promised. During the demonstration, he engaged in an argument with the police, resulting in his detention and subsequent sentencing to 20 days in prison. The mother of the veteran, tearfully speaking to Meydan TV, expressed her distress over her son’s deteriorating health, stating that her son suffers from severe headaches. “Mom, please bring me some medicine. Can such a situation and such a law coexist? I beg you, please help my child”, said veteran’s mother.
According to reports, a soldier named Bakiyev Kenan Seymur oglu, who served in the National Security Service, tragically took his own life by discharging a firearm at a military unit in Nakhchivan. Born in 2001 Narimanov district of Baku, Bakiyev is among the soldiers who have tragically lost their lives under mysterious circumstances. This incident marks the fifth unexplained death within the State Border Service in recent months.
Governance and Corruption
Elvin Mahmudzade, the Chairman of the “Azerbaijan Patriots” Public Union, who played a prominent role in leveling accusations against former political prisoner Abid Gafarov, has been arrested on charges of misappropriating government funds. Following a complaint filed by several veterans of the second Karabakh War, Mahmudzade was detained and is currently under investigation. He stands accused of fraudulent activities involving a substantial sum of money designated for the benefit of veterans. Notably, Elvin Mahmudzade actively participated in the legal proceedings against Abid Gafarov, the former prisoner of conscience, often instigating the veterans to provide false testimonies against him. During confrontations with one of the activists defending Gafarov, Mahmudzade would proudly proclaim, “I am a soldier of Mr. President!”
According to video footage aired on Armenian channels, Russian soldiers can be seen removing the Azerbaijani flag from a pole located at the beginning of the Lachin corridor at the top of the Hekari bridge. Armenian sources claim that this incident occurred on June 15. Reports from the Armenian press state that the commander of the Russian Peacekeepers informed Karabakh Armenian representatives that the Russians had closed the Lachin-Shusha road in response to Pashinyan’s statement that “Karabakh is the territory of Azerbaijan.” The Azerbaijani side has not yet provided any comments on this news.
In relation to the recent developments on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, political commentator Arastun Orujlu expressed his belief that Russia will increase its involvement in the South Caucasus region in the near future. The actions of Russian “peacekeepers” in the Lachin corridor represent a fresh aspect in Moscow’s policy towards Azerbaijan. This is evident from the statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry concerning the Lachin Corridor. These developments present us with a new scenario, not only in the mountainous region of Karabakh under Russia’s control but also along our northern borders. Consequently, we must now prepare ourselves for any potential eventualities.”
A proposed legislation presented to the Russian State Duma outlines the establishment of schools in post-Soviet countries, adopting the Russian education system and curriculum alongside teachers trained in Russia. Russian officials have indicated that preparations for the opening of such schools are already in progress in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, with plans for future schools to be opened in Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Fuad Gahramanli, a member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, criticized the government for its inadequate response to the actions of the Russian army in Karabakh, as well as its lack of reaction to the recently proposed legislation. “They criticize the West, admonish France, engage in disputes with Iran, and demonstrate a tough approach towards Armenia, showing an “iron fist”. In essence, they engage in actions that fuel corruption, promote a monarchy, and deprive the people of their national wealth and rights, all under the pretext of nationalism and the pursuit of national sovereignty. However, when it comes to Russia, they remain silent and submissive, behaving as obedient vassals. They fail to consider national interests or sovereignty, unable to raise their voices or register a simple protest against the disrespectful act of a Russian soldier removing our flag. Consequently, their imitation of nationalism evaporates like a fragile soap bubble.”
July 11, 2023