Center for National and International Studies



Ilham Aliyev is adopting Putin‘s tactics and may take similar actions against his political opponents…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

Azerbaijan is the only non-democratic country in the region, according to the Democracy Index published by the Economist Intelligence Unit for the year 2023. While Azerbaijan stands out as the sole non-democratic country in the region, neighboring countries Armenia and Georgia are ranked 84th and 89th, respectively, both recognized as hybrid regimes. Among the 165 states listed, Azerbaijan is placed at the 130th position. In contrast, Norway, known for its wealth in oil resources tops the list.

Nigar Hezi, the daughter of jailed opposition figure Tofig Yagublu, reported that she had a meeting with her father in prison. Yagublu expressed profound sadness upon learning about Alexey Navalny‘s death. He also voiced concerns that Ilham Aliyev is adopting Putin‘s tactics and may take similar actions against political opponents, particularly himself. Yagublu highlighted the widely known and visible personal animosity and hostility that Ilham Aliyev harbors against him. Additionally, he shared that three days ago, he underwent a blood test as instructed by the prison authorities, although the purpose behind this action remains unclear to him. While medical examinations are mandatory upon prison admission, the rationale for this specific blood test has not been provided.

A resolution, signed by twenty-one members of the United States House of Representatives, urges the immediate and unconditional release of Azerbaijani economist and scholar Gubad Ibadoghlu, who was detained in Baku last summer. Introduced by Republican Party member David Rouzer on February 14, the resolution criticizes the treatment of Gubad Ibadoghlu by the Azerbaijani government and calls for his immediate release. The resolution emphasizes that Dr. Ibadoghlu has been denied access to his legal representation and a fair judicial investigation. It further notes the concerns expressed by the State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Baku, American academic institutions, and the international community regarding Dr. Ibadoghlu‘s health, urging his immediate release. The resolution condemns the unlawful detention of Ibadoghlu, highlighting its severe violation of human rights and academic freedom. The authors of the resolution strongly denounce the practice of unjust imprisonment and the suppression of freedom in Azerbaijan, demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Gubad Ibadoghlu.

In the meantime, the imprisonment duration for Gubad Ibadoglu has been prolonged by an additional 3 months. Ibadoghlu has been held in custody for a total of 4 months. The opposition party members expressed that the decision to extend the detention period is reflective of the regime’s oppressive tactics, aiming to exert continuous pressure on dissenting voices. The deliberate elongation of the criminal case, based on unfounded charges, signifies their inability to conclude the fabricated proceedings within the initial 4-month timeframe. A similar scenario is anticipated for Tofiq Yagublu, with an expected extension of his detention period.

Having been in custody for the past 1 year and 2 months, activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev alleges instances of falsification of statements and signatures in the materials of his criminal case. He contends that even the investigator’s and expert’s signatures have been forged, evident in significant differences among them. On February 16, during a court appearance, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev raised this concern, urging a forensic examination and investigation into the signatures. He explained that while a criminal case related to an incident with Ulviyya Alovlu in Yasamal District Court was initiated and subsequently closed, it was later exploited to penalize him for advocating sanctions against human rights violators in Azerbaijan. According to Hajiyev, before his arrest, he received a warning that if he didn’t cease calls for sanctions, he would be punished. True to the warning, he was arrested on the day the U.S. imposed sanctions against Colonel Karim Alimardanov, leading to the reopening of the closed case.

Commenting on the news about the death of Navalny chairperson of the APFP Ali Karimli has urged the government to release the plitical prisoners with severe health conditions. Karimli posted on Facebook: “Before a tragedy occurres in Azerbaijani prisons, the regime must release political prisoners, especially Gubad Ibadoglu and Tofiq Yagublu. Everyone, including the government, knows that Gubad Bey is seriously ill, and the threat to his life is very real under the circumstances in prison. Each political prisoner in the regime’s political grip faces a serious danger to their lives. However, Gubad Bey and Tofiq Bey are facing an even greater threat to their lives. The regime should not lose its sense of responsibility and should not push the country into an irreversible situation. Gubad Ibadoglu and Tofiq Yagublu, along with other political prisoners, must be released immediately.”

Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli also commented on the news about russian oppostion leader’s death saying that preisdent Aliyev has came to power through bloodshed. Mukhtarli’s post: “Ilham Aliyev is a murderer like Putin. In Aliyev‘s hands, there is the blood of Elmar Huseynov, Rafiq Taghi, Rasim Aliyev, Mehman Galandarov, Bayram Mammadov, Vuqar Rzayev, Huseyn Bakixanov. Ilham Aliyev seized power in 2003 by shedding the blood of thousands of citizens in Azadliq Square, and by ruthlessly killing the opposition figure Hemaqad Zahidov.”

Member of the APFP Fuad Gahramanli argued that Navalny’s death in prison would result in serious outcomes for the authoritarian regimes. Gahramanli: “This death will also lead to the harsh and uncompromising attitude towards the brutal and coercive actions of authoritarian regimes sympathetic to Putin, which violate democracy and human rights. Now everyone sees that when dictators feel fearless, when there is no punishment to deter them, and when they do not feel accountable under international law, they do not hesitate to repeat the most brutal atrocities, without considering anything, and they do not hesitate to kill people indiscriminately. In this regard, Navalny‘s death will be an appeal to the conscience of humanity, addressing all supporters of democracy, and a call for the salvation of individuals facing the wrath and rule of dictators.”

Chairperosn of the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) Jamil Hasanli urged the authorities to take the increasing cases of measles among children seriously. Recently, a few hundred people died of measles. However, there has not been an official response regarding the situation.  Hasanli’s post: “there are serious reasons for the increasing cases of measles in Azerbaijan. The primary reason for this is related to vaccination. Initially, out of the 16 recommended doses determined by the WHO for various age groups, only 11-12, which are remnants from the Soviet era, are administered in Azerbaijan. Additional funds need to be allocated to implement the 4-5 doses that are not given to Azerbaijani children. The Aliyevs do not provide child support nor extra funding for the vaccine. On the other hand, in conditions where the demographic situation is sharply deteriorating, how reliable is the implementation of these 11-12 vaccinations? Secondly, the quality and timeliness of drug preparations. Since the pharmaceutical business is mainly controlled by the ruling family, how reliable are the quality and timing of vaccine preparations? Information has repeatedly surfaced about modified and expired drugs being brought into the country. Thirdly, worsening social conditions contribute to the deterioration of public hygiene, water, and food quality. And more cases of food intolerance among children. Finally, it has become so acute that even height indicators, which have been forming for centuries, have decreased in the country. In other words, as the wealth of the dominant family increases, the height of Azerbaijani children who do not receive child support decreases.”

Ilham Aliyev‘s scheduled address at the Munich Security Conference has been called off. Previously, there was information circulating about Ilham Aliyev‘s participation in the conference, as indicated on the conference’s website. However, recent updates to the conference agenda on the website reveal that Minister Mukhtar Babayev will now address climate issues at the event. No official explanation has been given for the cancellation of Ilham Aliyev‘s speech.


February 20, 2024