Here are the major events that made headlines and top issues highlighted by the FB community.
Presidential Elections in Iran
The presidential elections in Iran have been widely discussed on social media. Gubad Ibadoglu argues that it is not worth waiting for the new president to pursue a new policy, on the contrary there are claims that he will further authorize the existing policy. Ibrahim Raisi is remembered by both the local and international community as the main person responsible for the mass human rights violations in Iran. He is still remembered for his actions against the People’s Mujahideen in the 1980s. Therefore, the new president has already been included in the list of undesirable persons of international organizations. Ibadoglu compares the elections in Iran and Azerbaijan, stating that the turnout in the Iranian elections was low because, as in Azerbaijan, due to the lack of trust in elections, the people did not go to the polls.
Elections in Armenia
The result of elections in Armenia was widely discussed by Azerbaijani activist and public figures. Seymur Hazi shared his opinion on his FB post that if Pashinyan wins, new political balances will be inevitable, and Armenia will have to start building an army outside Russia’s control. Arif Hajili announced the result of the elections saying that Kocharyan, who was openly supported by Russia, lost the early parliamentary elections in Armenia. Hajili argues that although the limitation to Russia’s influence in Armenia is a positive development, there is no need for reassurance as Russia will now try to make up for its losses in Armenia in Upper Karabakh, making this controlled territory its main outpost in the South Caucasus.
Despite their varying opinions, the majority of FB users agree that Armenia, unlike Azerbaijan, has rapidly embarked on a path of integration with the West and has already managed to bear results in the form of free elections.
Since its signing, the Shusha declaration stills causes discussions and speculations among activists and the general public. Fuad Gahramanli shared his views in details, arguing that one must look for Russia’s footprint behind the declaration. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharov said that “we do not consider it right to include Nagorno-Karabakh in the bilateral relations of Azerbaijan or Armenia with third countries, and we are looking at the recent high-level contacts between Azerbaijan and Turkey in this context.” The statement does not create a legal obligation to the state, regardless of the expressions in the text, and does not define the mechanisms of implementation of the intended activities. From the point of view of international law, the statement reflects only the intentions and wishes of the parties. The implementation of these intentions is determined by concrete agreements, making them a legal obligation.
Arif Yunus reflected on this topic stating that the “Shusha Declaration“, signed in the city of Shusha by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey, as a litmus test showed the true attitude of Russia, Iran and Armenia to the new status quo that emerged in the South Caucasus region after the Second Karabakh War and this is only the beginning of the reality that they all have to reckon with now.
Debates around “National Leader”
Former political prisoner, political activist Tofig Yagublu joined the discussions asking, “why should those who accept Heydar Aliyev as a national leader be in opposition to Ilham Aliyev, who is his worthy successor successfully implementing his ideas and dreams?” Yagublu argues that the logic behind this attitude is completely different and should be looked for in the political agendas of those so-called opposition parties. In his later posts, Yagublu also touched upon the excessive lockdown measures in Azerbaijan and the US president Biden’s unwillingness to address the case of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
Ganimat Zahid shared his extensive views on this issue, saying that “it seems that we are experiencing the next stage of Heydar Aliyev‘s glorification as a “national leader”. This is not the first attempt to portray him as a “national leader.” Although Aliyev’s cult was celebrated in the offices of the administration and in the corridors of the ruling party, it was not wholly embraced by the society. Attempts by the government to reach out to society have always failed.
Political prisoner Lachin Valiyev has been on a hunger strike for two days already as a protest against his illegal arrest. Tahir Heydarov, who makes critical remarks under the name “Tahir Zangilanli”, was detained for participating in rallies. He was arrested on drug charges and sentenced on June 17. Journalist and political activist Seymur Hazi and his wife Nigar Hazi were declined to book plane tickets. According to Nigar Hazi, the couple urgently needed to go to Georgia, but they couldn’t buy a plane ticket as a result of “shocking innovation from Buta Airways.” Hazi mentioned in her FB post that, despite all the nonsense made by the bank regarding the failure of online booking, they exactly know why they are not allowed to leave the country. Nigar Hazi believes that authorities are worried about Seymur Hazi’s meetings with the members of political parties in Ankara, and they think that the purpose of the visit to Georgia is related to this.
According to the leader of the Popular Front Party, Ali Karimli, his security guard, AXCP activist Ruslan Amirov was also sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment. Karimli concluded that “such repressive acts carried out as instructed by Aliyev can not make our people subjugate to family rule forever.”
Forty days have passed since the funeral of the former political prisoner and young activist activist Bayram Mammadli. By using the hashtag #BayramaNeOldu, activists on FB agrees that there is not the slightest doubt that he was killed. However, the killers, instructors, and all those who were involved in Mammadli’s death are still unknown.
Corruption, malfunctioning of Government
“You can’t even open a shop without paying bribes.” According to Azadliq Newspaper, the scale of corruption in Azerbaijan was brought to light in Turkish media. Although it was not a surprise for the majority of the Azerbaijanis, yet it was somehow unexpected to the FB community that Turkish media decided to highlight the issues related to corruption in Azerbaijan.
Blogger and political activist Mehman Huseynov shared his new investigative research on yet another family business by Oktay Asadov, former head of National Assembly. According to the research, Asadov’s family members runs illegal businesses both in Azerbaijan and Russia.
In his post, Natig Jafarli of REAL reflected on the failure of the government to address ecological issues. Jafarli stated that in the first five months of this year, 31,220 cars were imported to the country, of which only 29 are modern, environmentally friendly, electric cars. Jafarli concluded that “this government says that we will build a “smart village”, a “smart city”, an environmentally friendly, “green economy” – alas, with such a policy, greed and backward thinking, you cannot create or build anything. This system is ecologically “corrupted” as well.
Former Minister of Internal Affairs of the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan Ahmed Ahmedov was arrested on corruption charges and sentenced to 11 years. Ahmedov’s name has been heard in various corruption, torture cases, and he has been known as one of the most brutal officials. The activist on social media argues that Ahmedov is just one of the hundreds of corrupt officials who have accumulated a vast amount of power by undermining the justice system.
Social and Economic matters
Meydan TV shared the concerns expressed by Elvin Jafarov, the participant in the Second Karabakh War. Jafarov said that before the war, he used to work for 10 manats a day, but now due to his declined health, it is impossible for him to work any longer. “Wherever I go for work, they say, “you’re nervous.” I don’t know what to do, how to support my family,” he said.
One of the key issues that has been discussed and criticized is the government’s handling of the pandemic. FB users addressed this issue by stating that without any valid explanation, the public transportation in Baku has not been working on weekends for months already. Although the Operational Headquarter justified it as one of the measures taken against the spread of the virus, this law doesn’t apply when there is international sports event on weekends. For instance, during the recent football match, public transportation was operational despite the fact that it was the weekend. This rather unjustified measure makes the public rightfully question whether the international event is more important than the lives and health of people.