Center for National and International Studies



“The main difference between Ilham Aliyev‘s regime and all other corrupt regimes is the ruling family’s ability to impose corrupt practices on the society under the name of ‘patriotism’….”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties

 On April 18, the trial of a group of military personnel who were accused of torture in the “Tartar case“, was held in the Sumgait Court. Many victims testified in court. One of the victims Yusif Asadov said that military prosecutor general Hikmat Hasanov was personally beating up the soldiers.  “The chief of the military police, the military prosecutor, General Hikmat Hasanov, and many others were all there. Hikmat Hasanov told me that you are a traitor. He kicked me and instructed Mubariz Rzayev to take me to another room. Masked men tortured me: they covered my face with a cloth and poured water; I was subjected to electroshock. In the next room, Babek Aliyev was being tortured. I could hear his voice. Babek is the cousin of the national hero Mubariz Ibrahimov. They told Babek to confess that he switched to the so-called Armenian side, he was a traitor, and Mubariz was also a traitor like him.” Tartar Case is a case of brutal torture against Azerbaijani military personnel who were wrongfully accused of treason in 2017. More than 400 people were subjected to torture, as a result of which at least 13 servicemen died. Although several high-ranking military officials, including Generals Nacmeddin Sadikhov and Hikmet Hasanov, are accused of torture, they have not been brought to justice. After years of denial, in 2021, Azerbaijani authorities finally started investigating the case, and as a result, more than 400 people were recognized as victims. Although since then, the trials have continued, local and international human rights defenders have serious doubts about the transparency and fairness of the investigations.

Governance and Corruption

According to the statement of the Ministry of Science and Education, six secondary schools in Baku will switch to complete online education “in connection with the Formula 1 race to be held in Baku, on April 24-29.”

Commenting on the disruption of movement in central Baku due to Formula 1, chairperson of the National Council of Democratic Forces Jamil Hasanli said that corruption is the reason why the Azerbaijani government has been hosting the games for the last seven years. Hasanli: “What is the secret that the Azerbaijani authorities host the Formula 1 race, in which there is no national team to take part? Why Azerbaijani taxpayers’ money should be spent on this event that disturbs the comfort of the people? The main difference between Ilham Aliyev‘s regime and all other corrupt regimes is the ruling family’s ability to impose corrupt practices on the society under the name of “patriotism”. Imagine that one billion manat money was written off from the budget for the construction of roads in the liberated territories of Karabakh. However, one billion manats could cover the entire territory of Azerbaijan with asphalt. Where there are unnecessary (and also harmful) sports competitions, where there are unnecessary international events, former officials who are useless in their own country gather in Baku in the name of globalization and spend the money of Azerbaijani citizens who are struggling with financial problems. Azerbaijan pays the highest rates for these athletes and crooked politicians. They stay in Aliyev’s family hotels, eat and drink in their restaurants, and use their services.”

President Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva visited Salyan and Neftchala. They had a meeting at Azerbaijan Fish Farm LLC which a Sturgeon Breeding Farm that specialized in the production of fish and caviar. Azerbaijan Fish Farm company belongs to “LU-MUN” Holding, which is believed to belong to the “Pasha Holding” owned by the president’s family.

Commenting on the president’s visit, chairperson of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Ali Karimli said that the president is not interested in listening to the complaints of the citizens. Karimli: “Ilham Aliyev participates in the opening of several facilities (Olympic complex, regional ASAN service office, local hospital) that were built at a cost many times higher than their real cost at the expense of the state budget. Why does Ilham Aliyev visit these facilities? For example, can Ilham Aliyev see how much corruption is there when he looks at those objects? Normally, the Chamber of Accounts should inspect these objects and find out how public funding is wasted through such construction works. However, since both corruption and embezzlement of budget funds are “state policy” in this country, no state body can investigate corruption cases without permission. Ilham Aliyev does not listen to the people in Salyan, Neftchala, or other regions he visited, nor is he interested in knowing what the people complain about. On the contrary, during the visit, the residents of Salyan and Neftchala were demanded to stay at their houses and close the door.”

Director of Baku Research Institute Altay Goyushov also commented on the president’s visit, adding that the residents were not allowed to leave their houses. Goyushov: “It is said that there were many people who wanted to meet the president and raise their problems, but they were not allowed to go outside their doors. In the 21st century, instead of solving problems through elections, people go to the Khan for their problems, praise him and beg for a solution by bowing down, like it was in the Middle Ages. The situation is as the khan-vassal court described in Akhundov’s famous work. Nothing has changed. The Khan himself wants you to forget about elections, civil protests, demonstrations, strikes, and the supreme law. He wants you to ask him for everything and bow down at his feet and beg. Of course, he does this on purpose to cripple you so that he can do what he wants. Until the idea that “we need to choose a government through elections” sinks into our minds, we are doomed to be the ignorant subjects described by Akhundov.”

Chairperson of NCDF Jamil Hasanli said that there is “a huge gap between the people and Ilham Aliyev.” Hasanli: “Previously, at least when the head of the country went to the regions, a group of trained and specially prepared people would be brought to talk to him. Or they would take a bunch of people from Baku on a bus and bring them to the region to thank the president. Previously, the police used to put people who were likely to complain in the police station before Ilham Aliyev‘s visit and “release” them only after he left the region. Now they don’t even let the people of the district go out of their houses. Streets, shops, and markets seem empty. The president is hiding from the people. But they say that “people support us”. If so, why are you hiding from the people who “support” you? Because a deep gap has emerged between the people and Ilham Aliyev‘s family rule and corrupt regime. People live in poverty, especially in the regions and villages. That’s why during his visits, they force people to stay inside their homes so that no one will talk about the problems. For three years, the pandemic-related quarantine has become a tool to suppress people.”

Chairperson of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADWP) Gubad Ibadoghlu said that the reconstruction and the repatriation program of the government for the Karabakh region is designed to legalize the misappropriation of public funds. Ibadoghlu: “The big return program to Karabakh, adopted by the authorities at the end of last year, was actually designed to prevent the return of internally displaced persons, to plunder the wealth and lands of Karabakh by the ruling dynasty, and to put a legal cap on the illegal actions of officials. There is no return program, and there is no program on how not to return IDPs to those places! The Karabakh lands, which were freed from the Armenians at the expense of the blood of our 20 thousand martyrs and the health of thousands of our veterans, have been occupied again by the ruling family and officials, and all the doors have been closed to the internally displaced persons. Karabakh has turned into a closed zone; our centuries-old and millennia-old villages are erased from history; villages are abolished; the construction of camp-like settlements to be built instead is deliberately delayed; billions allocated from the state budget in the name of Karabakh reconstruction are looted; the ownership of lands belonging to internally displaced persons is concentrated in one hand; our mountains, plains, rivers are occupied; hotels, entertainment centers are built; our homelands and cemeteries destroyed by Armenians and the rest groan under the iron claws of bulldozers by order of the Armenians of our blood. However, nearly 1 million IDPs who criticize their neighbors do not even make a noise as if nothing happened.”

The Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan decided to extend the quarantine regime for another two months. According to the decision, the period of the special quarantine regime in the country has been extended from May 1 to July 1. In its decision, the Cabinet referred to Article 25 of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On Sanitary and Epidemiological Safety” and Resolution No. 73-1 of the Cabinet on  “the danger of the emergence or spread of infectious, parasitic and mass non-infectious diseases” accepted on February 28, 2020.  

April 21, 2023