Center for National and International Studies
Center for National and International Studies
“With Schengen visa you can visit the EU multiple times a year but with Shusha visa you can visit Karabakh only once…”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Sabail District Prosecutor’s Office shared a statement arguing that “Tofig Yagublu tried to injure himself by throwing himself to the walls and beating his face with his hands, while in the police station.” The statement was called absurd by the social media users and activists who accused the Prosecutor’s Office of insulting the intelligence of the people with such nonsense statements. NIDA Civil Movement condemned the statement calling it “the most obvious indicator of the state of the judicial and police system in Azerbaijan.” The post shared by NIDA on FB reads: “The case of Tofig Yagublu gives grounds to say once again that tomorrow anyone can be subjected to torture, insults and even murder for their political activities. No one is insured against such acts of violence. No court or law enforcement system in Azerbaijan will give a legal assessment to such actions. Ordered torture will be presented as “self-harm” and contract killings as “suicide.” Activist Nigar Hezi shared her opinion on FB, saying that the society itself must punish criminals if the perpetrators of the torture will not be punished.
Zamin Salayev, a member of the Popular Front Party, who was released recently, spoke about the torture that followed his detention: “They tortured me mercilessly. I was detained at the Sabail District 8th Police Station. Then, I was taken to the Sabail District Police Department, where the deputy chiefs, including the chief himself, tortured me and forced me to clean the toilet. They inflicted severe injuries on my body. I had to undergo surgery for those injuries.”
Governance, corruption, transparency
This week marks the 32nd anniversary of Black January, a massacre of 146 civilians, including children, by the Soviet troops in Baku in 1990. Late at night on 19, 1990, after the demolition of state television building and radio lines, Soviet troops entered Baku as part of a state of emergency, violently cracking down on residents of the city that resulted in death toll of 146, with 800 people being injured and five people went missing. 20 January is recognized as the Day of Nationwide Mourning and a turning point for Azerbaijan to restore its independence.
On its 32nd anniversary, the January 20 massacre was seriously distorted in the 4th-grade textbooks in the Russian language written for the Russian sections of secondary schools in Baku. The text written for 4th-grade pupils states that the civilians who were massacred on that night in Baku were allegedly killed in a shootout between the Soviet army and the armed groups of the Azerbaijan Popular Front. After the inquiries, the publishing house Serq-Qerb stated that it was an apparent mistake and the translation would be reconsidered. However, Journalist Mehman Huseynov argued that it was neither a mistranslation nor a mistake and the publishing house did it deliberately. Huseynov wrote: The Serq-Qerb Publishing House is directly owned by Ramiz Mehdiyev. So there can’t be any question here. That text was included in the textbook purposefully and deliberately.”
Remembering Black January, opposition leader Tofig Yagublu wrote that after 32 years since the country rescued itself from the clamp of the Soviet empire now, it is seized by an even more evil power. Yagublu wrote: Today, 32 years have passed since January 20, one of the most glorious and tragic days in the history of Azerbaijan, which gave us state independence. Unfortunately, our Motherland, which the martyrs of January 20 saved from the clutches of the empire, has now been seized by an even more hideous, evil, thief, robber, crook family. The regime of Ilham Aliyev, which held entertainment events attended by hundreds of thousands of people while ignoring the quarantine rules, imposed restrictions on those who came to visit the graves of martyrs under the pretext of quarantine.”
Investigative journalist Mehman Huseynov published a significant investigation into Rauf Aliyev, the son-in-law of SOCAR’s president Rovnag Abdullayev. According to Huseynov, Abdullayev purchased numerous properties, including hotels and restaurants in Tbilisi, for his son-in-law as a gift.
Post-War Situation. New travel rules to the liberated territories.
Azerbaijani Government released new travel rules for those who want to visit liberated territories in the Karabakh region. According to the rules, Azerbaijani citizens can only visit once per year, and their travels must be arranged beforehand with the authorities. The new rules were widely criticized on social media, with many FB users calling it sarcastically “New Shusha Visas,” comparing it to the Schengen visas of the EU. Anar Rzayev, head of the State Transport Service under the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport, said at a briefing on the opening of regular bus routes to the liberated territories: “Every citizen is allowed to visit only once a year. Passengers are provided with personal incident insurance. People with certain privileges have the opportunity to get free tickets to these destinations once a year. The category of privileged people includes national heroes, members of the families of martyrs, and the veterans of the Karabakh war. All, including privileged persons, have the right to visit the liberated territories only once a year. “
Member of NCDF, Tofig Yagublu, reacted to the new travel rules calling it “pure idiocy”. Yagublu: Is there another explanation for this? On the one hand, the government builds a highly expensive airport in Fizuli, plans to build two more airports in Zangilan and Lachin, and on the other hand, permits the citizens to visit the liberated territories only once a year. This permission can be as difficult as getting a Schengen visa to EU countries.”
Journalist Mehman Huseynov shared a similar opinion asking, “if after fighting a bloody war to liberate those territories Azerbaijani citizens will be allowed to visit Karabakh only once a year, then for whom were those lands liberated?”
Chairman of ADW Party Gubad Ibadoghlu shed light on another issue concerning the situation of war veterans. According to Ibadoghlu, after 14 months delay, pensions will be awarded to the veterans of the Second Karabakh War from 2022. “This delay,” added Ibadoghlu “means saving up 4 million manats per month, and 56 million manats in total.” Ibadoghlu concluded that “if the government wants to save the budget, instead of neglecting the veterans, it should prevent corruption, stop looting, and transferring dirty money to offshore accounts abroad.”
Economy and Social Issues
Professor Gubad Ibadoghlu shared research based on the statistical data provided by the Statistics Committee. According to his conclusions, the highest inflation and lowest wage growth among the CIS countries in 2021 were recorded in Azerbaijan. In 2021 the inflation rate was three times more than the increase in wages. “Considering that roughly 70 percent of the country’s population is in fact unemployed, the situation is deplorable,” said Ibadoghlu. Ibadoghlu continued: “In January-November 2021, the average monthly salary of those working in Azerbaijan increased by only 2.9 percent. Thus, Azerbaijan ranks last among the CIS countries in terms of the growth rate of the average monthly salary of workers. By the way, Azerbaijan is also the forerunner in terms of price growth. Thus, despite the fact that in 2021 the price of oil, the main export product of Azerbaijan, was 1.5-2 times higher than envisaged in the budget, in January-November 2021, the average monthly salary of the working population increased by only 2.9 percent.”
January 21, 2022