Center for National and International Studies



“..People are dying like flies, the whole generation gets indebted, but there are no results…”

The activists, journalists and bloggers are concerned with the uncertain situation on the state border with Armenia, decry Russia’s role in the conflict,

Post-war situation. The Fb community continues to discuss the uncertainty and tension on the state border with Armenia. Osmangizi TV interviews US prominent expert Paul Goble, who stating that situation is very dangerous and can explode any moment, argues that if Azerbaijan had military bases of Turkey, Russia would be constrained in its demands. The local media reports that two leaders of the Upper Karabagh Armenians, who are declared in search by the Azerbaijani authorities, the head of the separatist regime Arayik Arutyunian and the “ secretary of the Security Council” Vitali Balasanian has walked Turshsu, Salatinkend, Boyuk Galaderesi, Kichik Galaderesi villages, checking the military posts and holding the meetings with the local population. Ali Karimli argues, that while Azerbaijani troops did not cross the official borders, the international community is full of disinformation that the army has entered Zangezur. He considers that this is a result of a political mistake of the official Baku,  with president lately making claims about Zangezur, forceful opening of the corridor etc. The FB community shares reports that the US Embassy did not advise its citizens to travel to Azerbaijan and Armenia, raising the warning to the 4th ( red) level, due to the COVID, tension on the border, and threat of terrorism. Azerbaijan State Security Service issued a statement that the warning of the US State Department regarding the threat of terrorism is groundless.  The FB users also share information by Habib Muntazir who with reference to Armenian sources reports the new trilateral agreement between Putin, Pahsinian and Aliyev about demarcation and delimitation of state borders. It is also reported that Armenian Foreign Ministry defied existence of such an agreement.

Role of Russia. The role of Russia continues to be assessed pre-dominantly negatively by unofficial circles in the country. The media quotes Lavrov’s statement at the press-confernece with Sierra Leone foreign minister  David John Francis saying that Azerbaijan called the incident at the borders “ misunderstanding, which was caused primarily by the absence of demarcated state borders”. He expressed Russia’s readiness to provide all the assistance in the process of demarcation and delimitation of the Azerbaijan- Armenia borders. The opposition activists recalls that the fact of the first incident on the border was with participation of the Russian border troops. They argue, that official Azerbaijan by keeping silence promotes informational crisis and thus helps Russia to stir instability. They are convinced, that the game was created by Kremlin in order to threaten Armenia and show Baku guilty so it makes greater compromises.

Situation in Dmanisi region of Georgia.  The video of violent attack of re-settled from the mountains Svans on the locals in Azerbaijani populated region of Georgia Dmanisi caused a chain of reflection on the status , situation with rights of Azerbaijanis there and state of development of these regions. The political and civil leaders continue to express  their  views on the clashes, many arguing that Russia might be behind it. They stress the strategic character of relations between the two nations and states, high trade turnover, energy cooperation  and suggest, that it is Russia ( or Armenia) who might be interested in worsening of these relations. Ali Karimli the leader of the Opposition Popular Front Party stressing the under-investment in these regions, also blamed the Azerbaijani government who could make the Azerbaijani regions in Georgia benefit from its multibillion investments in Georgia. The activists note with indignation, that the representative of the State Committee on Work with Diasporas Vaguf Seyidbeyov instead of immediately visiting Dmanisi, went accompanied by the Azerbaijani ambassador Faig Guliyev to put flowers to the statue of Heydar Aliyev, and then visited only Marneuli and Gardabani regions. Majority of commentators, activists, civil and political leaders consider that solely resolution of such incidents based on the rule of law can prevent the broader conflict. Ali Karimli argues that the country should protect rights of Azerbaijanis in every part of the world, but it should be done in  a skilful diplomatic way, so not to spoil relations with those states. Azadlyg newspaper reports that the Minsiter of Interior of Georgia  Vakhtang Gomelauri  and the Head of Security Services Grigol Liluashvili came to the region and held meetings with participation of the local authorities and representatives of both communities. Gomelauri stated that regardless of ethnic background all responsible will be punished, Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR states that this is provocation and Azerbaijanis should stay calm and abstain from being provoked. He also considers that if the Georgian authorities do not react to its according to the law, one can expect the bigger conflict.  The ex-premi minister Panah Huseyn welcomed resolution of the incident in the region, commenting: “ Georgia is a friendly country, Georgians are friendly nation. And of course, regardless of the country, where Azerbaijanis live, we will always protect our brethren”. Seymur Hezi of PFP considers that this incident is staged by Russia, who wants to push Azerbaijan to chose the transit route by-passing Georgia. So Russia wants make Georgia to regret its choice of Western integration and keep both Armenia and Azerbaijan under her control. Gubad Ibadoglu and the participants in the stream programme of BIZ TV, consider that the events might be directed against the recent closer cooperation between Turkey-Azerbaijan-Georgia and the fact that majority of Dmanisi population voted for Saakashvili.

Human rights. The human rights defender Rufat Safarov reports that the imprisoned journalist Polad Aslanov started the hunger strike in protest of mistreatment by the head of the prison #1

Emin Hasanov: he imposes restrictions in satisfaction of everyday basic needs, telephone conversations with the family and legal defender. Later he reported that the prison administration lifted those restrictions. The e-media continues to cover the tortures of the Ter-ter case participants, one of which recalls that they blackmailed him by his 8 year old daughter and the wife, whom they allegedly kept in the other room during the interrogation. The other case is reported by Meydan TV. The mother of the  officer Huseynov İsmayil who was sentenced for 15 years behind bars describes that he was taken from home at night and was given severe tortures. In order to make him to sign “confession” they threaten him by raping his mother, sister and brother. The politicians and journalists continue to explain and interpret the events of Ter-ter case. Arastun Orujlu, the activist in exile,  who asserts numerous data and materials collected by himself, argues that the severity of tortures could be comparable to those which experienced Azerbaijani troops in Armenian capture. The expert of Osmangizi TV argues that  Ter-ter case was an attempt to destroy Azerbaijani army by Russia. Meydan TV reports that 17 May is marked as the day of Homophobia, Transphobia and Biophobia  and that Azerbaijan has earned  its reputation as the most Homophobic state of Europe. Azerbaijan along with Armenia, Turkey and Russia is at the lowest rating according to the index Rainbow.The FB community shares the information with reference to the newspaper Jumhurriyet , that the issue of investigation of the death of Azerbaijani activist Bayram Mammadov was raised in the National Parliament of Turkey, which addressed the detailed inquiry to the Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu. The inquiry has questions regarding the unclear aspects of his death, including the question about total number of Azerbaijanis who died, committed suicide or were deported from Turkey from the period of May 2015 to May 2021.   The Sumgayit Youth Education Society reports that its imprisoned leader Elchin Mammad  has serious health problems, including hepatitis C, bronchitis, etc and demand its transfer to the medical facilities of the Ministry of Justice. The opposition leader and the academic Jamil Hasanli alarms his followers regarding the last stage of hearing on case of PFP activists in connection with participation in Karabagh rally last year by the Sabayil court district court chaired by Agamali Gafarov.  He warns that the whole legal process aims at the persecution of the leaders and functionaries of the most consistent opposition party in the country, which is Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan. He reminds Fb community that of 37 detained in connection with the Karabagh rally in July 2020, 16 are PFP members, half of which are members of the party leadership structures and popular personalities. He refers to the reliable source, to report that the scenario applied to Seyid Bakuvi, sentenced to 3 years, is planned to be realized in this case with 5-6 leading activists pf the party to be sentenced to various terms behind the bars. The human rights defender Rufar Safarov reports the tortures and trumped up charges on drug possession of one of the participants of the Karabagh rally Tahir from Zangelan, who was forced to sign fake confession.

Fuad Gahramanli reports that 4 witnesses who testified at the hearing defied that PFP gave them instructions to go to the rally, in contrary the party warned them against participation at the meeting. The presentation of the video as  an evidence has shown only Asif Yusifli stating the slogan on Karabagh, and no one else of the accused was seen among those who entered the building of National Parliament. Human Rights defender Rasul Jafarov, member of REAL, has been at the hearing on political prisoners at the PACE of the Council of Europe. He reported there release by amnesty of 30 accused in Nardaran case ( with only 5 prisoners remaining), updated on the Ganja case, the one of 3 OMON prisoners. Meydan TV broadcasts the detention of the parents of the accused in cooperation with ISIS who were protesting in front of the presidential administration building and taken them in the unknown direction.

Governance, economy, corruption. The economic expert in exile and the leader of ADR movement Gubad Ibadoglu reports the growing speed of a price rise in Azerbaijan, which became the highest among CIS states – in the first quarter of 2021- it was 2,3 times higher than average.The opposition activist Yadigar Sadighli recalls with irony that the chair of the Customs Committee Safar Mehdiyev once said that the businessmen should not involve the Customs Committee’s employees in the corruption. Sadighly ironically reports that yesterday he was arrested charged with corruption– apparently the businessmen did not listen to his appeals and tempted decent bureaucrats. Natig Jafarli of REAL argues, that the Customs Committee should have been eliminated as a state agency. He comments ironically that most probably upon the construction of the new building of the agency it will be eliminated by merging it with the Ministry of Economy. Fuad Gahramanli argues, that the times when the authorities could support stability and employment in the country at the expanse of the budget are over. He confirms it by the fact of firing of thousands of SOCAR employees and cutting aid and benefits to 90 thousand sick and handicapped. He comments, that it will hard to avoid the social explosion if the authorities continue to rely on the patience of population. Gubad Ibadoglu commenting on mass reductions at SOCAR, reports numerous complaints and letters he receives from the affected groups, but who are extremely afraid to do it publicly. The opposition leader Tofig Yagublu comments on 6 th year since the fire of the 16 storey building on Azadlyg prospect which resulted in 15 deaths and numerous injured. He called it a product of the corrupt policies “the appearance is glossy, but the essence is rotten” and expressed his regret that this killing corruption is full scale continues. The economist Natig Jafarli (REAL) inquires the oil  and gas revenues from the reported by the State Customs Committee in January -March export and which are near 3 bln. 540 thousand dollars. Only 1 bln dollars was reported as income of the State Oil Fund (SOFAZ). He asks, besides the 2 bln 540 thousand location, what is the share of SOCAR oil and gas export independent from SOFAZ. He also inquires to disclose  the share of Azerbaijani side and the foreign companies, and the value of both oil and gas to the public.  The opposition leader Ali Karimli exposed the shocking statistics of  19 thousand more deaths in 2020 as compared to 2019.  While war related deaths constitute 3 thousand, the rest is still unexplained. The MP Vugar Bayramov argued  that it is important to conduct an intense vaccination, to lift the limitations on the real sector of economy as soon as possible, as the economic growth is expected this quarter already. Ali Karimli of PFP reports the profit in the budget  of 700 thousand manats, which could have been spent on compensation and benefits of the population, but it all depends on the active demands and protests of the population itself. Parviz Hashimli reports that Iman Nagiyev who turned the Baku Court of Appeal into a nest of corruption and bribe is appointed a judge at the Supreme Court. He comments with irony, that this is what is called “ deepening of the reforms”.

Democracy and power-society relations. The PFP youth branch opened a new website, which “invites to the struggle the young people who are not indifferent to the fate of the country”. They had to open a new page, as the old one was hacked by the authorities. The deputy leader of PFP Seymur Hezi attracts attention to the “interesting” interview to BBC of the UK ambassador to Azerbaijan James Sharp with “very important messages” and express his regret that the officials have not yet expressed their reaction to it at the time, when there is a such strong need in allies. He recalls that it was the UK who vetoed the anti-Azerbaijani draft resolution at the UNSC submitted by France and Russia. The e-media reports that President Aliyev has invited Belarus companies to participate in the restoration of the liberated territories.

The ruling party YAP functionary Siyavush Novruz highly assessed the newly published book by the journalist  Seymur AliyevHeydar Aliyev: Our values and the fight against the Armenia’s policy of “ green genocide”, where total de-forestation during 30 years of occupation, mining, burning of the forests in Shusha during 44 day war and other  are described.

The human rights defender Rufat Safarov ridicules the results of the survey by the Zahid Oruj led Social Studies Center, which shows 86,4% of support for Ilham Aliyev.

COVID-19. The Azadlyg newspaper published the letter by Mirali Huseynov the chair of NGO Democracy Learning Public Association where he appeals with questions to the H.Aliyev foundation. He reports that Heydar Aliyev Foundation has paid the expenses of the COVID treatment of MP Mirmahmud Miralioglu ( the chair of the political party PFP -Classics) and his family as of the well known personality  and the party leader. However, he argues, any average citizen should be able to afford the treatment. Huseynov describes the problems his family faced during pandemic. In one last month he lost his father   and his sister to the infectious disease. And although they have spent 30 thousand manat to the treatement of another sister she has been between life and death for a month in the intensive therapy department and there is little hope for her survival. He comments, that people are dying like flies, the whole generation is indebted, but there are no results… He appeals to the Foundation so they will not discriminate the citizens in their right to life and health service depending on their status.

Reference to history. Historian Jamil Hasanli posts the history of Crimean Tatars ( Turks)  and the chain of tragic deportations and persecutions they have been through during the last 77 years. He reports, that on 18 May 1944 they were deported from their homeland within 5 days. Although in 1956 the right of return was granted to many deported groups and nationalities after the XX congress of the Communist party, either that year or in the 1960s this right was not recognized for the Crimean Tatars. This happened only in 1989 after the decree of 14 November by the SSR Supreme Soviet  and not without certain limitations. On top of everything in 2014 the new phase started of their tragic history with its occupation by Russia, which left them homeless in their own homeland.

Social issues. Meydan TV reports the interview with the war handicapped who complaints to the bureaucratic ineffectiveness- sending him from one state agency to another to no avail- in resolving his benefits and compensation issues. The Fb community shares the posting on Azad Soz – the video of the employees of Azerenerji state company protesting the non-payment of their salaries by the employer. The same site argues, that Aliyev “tells to Karabaghis to wait while he cultivates his family’s farmland”. The Fb website Azad Soz posted a video of  another protest meeting in Saatli region. The people – handicapped, retired – who already protested earlier, complaining on the desperate living conditions, incapacity to meet health and other basic needs, including collapsing houses, with the miniscule pensions still did not get any problems solved, or even initiated. Jamil Hasanli argues that the money, which the president Aliyev cuts of the miniscule benefits of 2years  of 2,5 m. children of the country he directs to his three children. Such a person, he comments, does not have a moral right to be a leader of this country. The activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev posts the letter from one of the handicapped, who describes the poor governance in the area of social policies. The author of the letter reports that the handicapped were cut of their benefits since April, and they are told to wait for 8 months. Some of them, like those with only 20% of preserved vision capacity, are not given the category of handicapped. Majority of the handicapped indeed could buy their medications with the benefits they were getting, so now they are deprived of this opportunity. The tests and renewed registration is taking place only in one clinic,  including for those from the regions, so there are enormous queues and waiting time. The author of the letter comments that this is done deliberately so to cut  and safe on benefits for the population.

Refugee crisis at Morocco-Spain border. The Fb community follows the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. They post  and share the photos of the thousands of Moroccans who crossed the border of Spain with numerous reported drowned victims.

May 21, 2021