Center for National and International Studies



“…Elchibey is an outstanding person who became hostage of his endless love to people”…”

   Relations with Russia. The FB community continues to discuss the status of Russia-Azerbaijan relations in the context of the critical of Russia statements by the president Aliyev. The leader of the Popular Front Party Ali Karimli suggested that most probably the president did not expect that Kremlin will respond him at the level of the midlevel bureaucrat. And in a rather disrespectful manner. For the light criticism of Russian weapons supply for Armenia, the president  received an answer like “ We did it right”. Zakharova of MFA said that this was Russia’s sovereign right to supply foreign states, with weapons,  and that Russia takes into account a necessity to preserve the power balance between the parties to the conflict. Karimli asserts that this is a direct pressure on Azerbaijan, as there are two ways to “ preserve the power balance”- to arm Armenian military force at Russia’s expense, and when it is required to informally give military support to Armenia, such as it happened in Khojali massacre, or occupation of Shusha and Kalbajar. He concludes, that contrary to expectations of the president Aliyev, that the satisfaction of Russia’s long desired goal to be on the ground in Azerbaijan will soften its rhetoric and relations to Baku, Russia after strengthening of its position only made her rhetoric stricter. Fuad Gahramanali of PFP analyses the objectives of Russia, when it uses situation in Karabagh to put pressure on Azerbaijan: 1) to make Azerbaijan CSTO member 2) to sign an agreement on the status of the peacekeeping forces in Karabagh 3) to make Azerbaijan a member of Eurasia Economic Union 4) to make Azerbaijan to refuse signing of an association agreement  with the EU 5) to make Azerbaijan to pay for Russia’s activities in Karabagh. He stresses that it is obvious that Russia opted for the language of pressure with Azerbaijan. He argues that Azerbaijan should respond to Russia by the substantial change of its foreign policy and in response to its open support of Armenia – 1) to develop mechanisms of implementation of the joint Azerbaijan Turkish Shusha statement and locate Turkish military bases on the borders with Armenia.2) the Azerbaijani parliament using the fact of Russia’s violation of the principle of neutrality and non-implementation of its peacekeeping mission adopt decision about its withdrawal 3) to conduct on the Azerbaijan territory NATO exercises with Georgia and Ukraine’s participation. 4) To undermine Russian domination in Karabagh to return to the OSCE Minsk group mediation, but at the same time to call for OSCE conference to change the composition of the institute of co-chairmen. 5) The parliament should adopt the law on the humanitarian status of the Lachin corridor and establishment of Azerbaijani state control of its entrance 6) Azerbaijan should call for the international conference on  Karabagh and replace Russian peacekeepers by the international ones. 7) the negotiation table should be created in the country, where opposition and the government could discuss common problems, and resist external pressure. 8) Aliyev should accept suggestion of Pashinian to start direct talks with each other, without Russian mediation. Ilgar Mammadov of REAL recalls that during the attempt of the coup d-e’tats the conspirators justified it that Gorbachiov and his surrounding are all very ill and will die soon, which create high risks  for political power. Thirty years after, all the organizers of the coup are dead, while Gorbachiov is still alive.

Crimea Platform meeting in Kiev. The meeting in Kiev with 44 countries is the biggest event arranged by Ukraine in connection with the occupation of part of its territory by Russia. They stress absence of Azerbaijani leader out of fear of Russia, and contrast it to the strong support which Ukraine gave Azerbaijan during the 44 day Karabagh warOsmangizi TV commentator argues that Azerbaijan does not let Turkey to Shusha and boycotted the meeting in Kiev due to the unwillingness to irritate Russia. Seymur Hezi, the journalist and activist of PFP argues that by not joining Crimea platform Aliyev demonstrated that 1) He will not be able to always come up united with Erdogan and Turkey 2) Support not to the position of Ukraine, who solidarized with Azerbaijan during 44 day war, but to Russia 3) ignoring occupation of Karabagh, similarly to Crimea 4) that the tension with Russia “is agreed on” 5) unpreparedness to signing of the agreement with the EU. Yadigar Sadighly considers that Ilham Aliyev proved wrong his statement that “we conduct independent policy”  “Only hostage of Kremlin would boycott its ally” Ukraine”, comments Osmangizi TV expert. The newspaper Azadlyg published the article by Rafig Manafli, who compares the events in 1920 and in 1991-2020, the role of Russia and how territorial conflicts were used to occupy Azerbaijan. The first time in 1920 Russian occupation resulted in giving Zangezur to Armenia, the second time- the war as over Karabagh.

Commemoration of the president Elchibey ( in office 1992-1993). The FB community actively share video and written materials  dedicated to the late, first democratically elected president Elchibey. People share his photos in exceedingly modest living conditions and comment on the lifestyle and personality of Abulfaz Elchibey. He was an academic in the area of Oriental studies, a dissident, who was imprisoned in the Soviet times, and led the national liberation democratic movement in the end of 80s- early 90s. People stress his unusually  ( compared to the other regional post-Soviet leaders) democratic style of governance and deep values of freedom, democracy and human rights. Many praise him for independence from Russia and making her withdraw troops and bases from Azerbaijan territory before all the other FSU states. One of the activists – Fuad Gahrmanali– called him “The great person, who became hostage of his endless love to people” and “The pure person who defeated not his political rivals , but the politics itself with his sincerity, bravery, integrity and love to people”. Leading opposition and civil society personalities posted comments about the late president. Gultakin Hajibeyli wrote, that “there was a president in Azerbaijan, who was democratically elected, never corrupt, who did not steal people’s millions for his children… This might sound unreal for the younger generation, but the nation indeed had such a head of state as Abulfaz Elchibey”. Historian and politician Jamil Hasanli posted his memoirs of Echibey, who was his professor at the University. He argues that in spite of the systematic blackening and slander campaign of authorities against Elchibey, people’s love to him was not affected. He compares his fate in this regard to that of M.E. Rasulzade, whose popularity was not affected by the decades of Soviet propaganda against him. Hasanli recalls enormous influence of Elchibey’s  lectures in 1970s, where he fearlessly spoke about prohibited issues- the first democratic republic of Azerbaijan and its founder M.E. Rasulzade, Ataturk, Turkey etc. It is not by accident that he was detained by KGB  in 1975 and eventually imprisoned on the charges of nationalist propaganda against the Soviet state. The process has involved many students and professors, who were under pressure to give false testimony. As prof. Hasanli noted there were more giving false testimony among professors than among students.   He stresses that the court hearing was the most unusual one, as Elchibey managed  to speak as if he was not the accused, but prosecutor, who was condemning the system. In the legal process which was by nature political  it turned into his moral victory over  KGB. After serving his imprisonment terms he was prohibited teaching and in general showing up in the educational institutions, so he was a researcher under monitoring in one of the institutes of Academy of Sciences. Prof. Hasanli suggests that there was a lot going on behind the scene duirng the coup-d’etats in 1993, when Elchibey already a president had to find exile in his home village Keleki of Nakhichevan, which might explain why he was forced to leave Baku. He recalls that Elchibey categorically refused to resign, when H. Aliyev sent a big delegation of well known academics to convince him to do it.  J. Hasanli also recalls that the delegation accused him in failure of the mission, and it is not by accident that after the rebellion of OMON in 1995 they intended to arrest Hasanli on trumped up charges. The academic parallels life of Elchibey to that of Mosaddiq, who also was ousted by the coup with significant role of the external states and who after the coup went to exile to his village Ahmadabad in Iran. Mosaddiq was the only MP, who never stood up when the Mohammed Reza Shah was entering the Parliament. Arif Hajili of Musavat party stated on his timeline, that while as a physical person Elchibey was the leader of the movement, political and state figure, first democratically elected president, but as moral value he is a symbol of the  ideology of independence, the struggle for freedom and democracy, the national unity of the 50 m people of Azerbaijan at the end of the 20th century. Guabd Ibadoglu of ADR stresses that Elchibey has not died in peoples hearts and minds, but lives like people of all times, and will live forever.

Human rights and liberties. Fb reports that the pressure continues on the activist of Popular Front Party and the member of its Presidium, Bakhtiyar Imanov. This time his the Ministry of Education did not allow his younger child’s  to enrol to the school, where his older son  is already a pupil under excuse that this was the school for IDPs. He demands officials to act in correspondence  with the 32.3. second part of Law on education. Media continues to disclose details and facts of the Ter-ter case. Meydan TV reports horrifying story of Elshan Gasimov, the sniper of the 2016 war, who was severely tortured but did not sign the fake confession. However, he did it, when they threatened that they will rape his sister and wife before his eyes. The judge of the Beylagan region Ali Suleymanov ask his mother a bribe of 50 thousand manat to avoid the life sentence, however they said that the money passed via a mediator did not reach the addressee. So both her son was given a life sentence and she lost all her money..The participants of the Ashura religious holiday ( mourning on the killed prophet) in Yevlakh region were arrested and received sentence of  – Aliyev Elshan- 15 days, Fariz Safaraliyev 20 days, Orkhan Mammadov 20 days in prison. Gunel Movlud, the female writer in exile in Norway, discredits some comments under her posting on LGBT rights, that homosexuality is an illness. The Ganja case was at last concluded. The human rights defender Elshan Hasanov commented that the result was anticipated- the unfair decision, exceedingly high imprisonment terms, curses on judge, crying mothers. He argues that the main blame is not on the judge but on the investigators, which is as usual is guided by political request. Overall in this case 6 people were killed – Rashad Boyukkishiyev, Anar Bagirov, Aga Serkhani, Fuad Samadov, Niyazi Najafov, Muraz Rahimov, and 58 people were given various terms of imprisonment sentences. On the 16th August 10 people received the following sentences Yunis Safarov– life sentence, Rasim Mustafayev, Akif Aliyev and Mahir Azizov- 20 years, Hamlet Abdullayev, Firudin Zeynalov, Vugar Mammadov and Jeyhun Salahov 19, Jafar Zalov and Jeyhun Gurbanov 18 years.

Post-conflict situation. People share with high concern the violation of ceasefire by the    Armenian party from  the 17:24 of 19th August to 00:25 on the 20th August  and firing from the Goris region’s village of Khanazakh, Basarkecher’s region village of Ashagi Zagali and Berd region Chinarli against the Azerbaijani positions located at Chagazur of Lachin region, Istisu of Kelbajar region and Asrik Chirdagan of Tovuz region. Later the same day  the fire was opened from the territories under control of Russia’s peacekeepers. The e-media reports that Russia is extending the “Lachin corridor” by 3 km. At the same time, it also informs that in Karabagh Azerbaijani army moved back by 3 km.

COVID-19. The issue of the fake vaccination passports has already was recognized by the officials. The head of the department on Economic problems and Innovative Development Policy of the presidential administration  Shahmar Movsumov informed that criminal cases were opened against those who possess fake passport and the fight with it continues, as they put under risk the other people.  The youth leader  Bakhtiyar Hajiyev ironically comments that the official is surprised with the cases of fraud, although people are surrounded by fraud and corruption, which are of systemic character, and the speaker himself represents this system.  The leaders of the civil society have been promoting and publicizing necessity of vaccination. Ali Karimli of PFP urges society to take the illness and its prevention –vaccination very seriously referring to the increased statistics of infected.  People anticipate more tension and mess in connection with opening restaurants and cafes to the people with COVID passports. “ There will be people’s dissatisfaction, new fines, problems for SMEs, – Natig Jafarli, an economist and functionary of REAL comments.  The representative of TABIB Ramil Bayramli stated that  a new package of measures of treating and preventing infections such as COVID, including production of vaccines, introduction of diagnostics, research etc. was launched in Azerbaijan. The activists and economists joke, that officials deliberately announced start of production of vaccines locally to scare people, so they would quickly get vaccinated by the Chinese vaccine to avoid the local one. Samir Aliyev commented that the most effective way to motivate people to quickly get vaccinated is to announce production of the local one. The acivists comment jokingly on official statement that the work of production of local vaccine started. One of the activists noted that people should not be worried, as it will be a pure water, and will be called Placebo.

Economy, governance, corruption. Fb users discuss the situation in the State Border Service, triggered by the information published by the news agency that it has near 30 generals. In spite of such a number of generals, the record of the SBS on fighting the drug trafficking from Iran is very poor, as there are daily  reports that police has discovered another party of  smuggled drugs. The journalist Parviz Hashimli reports that the chief of the State Border Service general Elchin Guliyev in his speech  on the occasion of 102 anniversary of this structure avoided mentioning the investigation of corruption by the State Security Service and General prosecutor’s office in his agency. Ilkin Rustamzade criticized those, who ridiculed modest living conditions of the president of Armenia Pashinian, as shown on the photo spread on social networks. People comment on the issue of smart cities etc. Geyushov makes ironic remark: “ We are an amazing nation- we can produce smart city, smart village, smart bus stop etc, but cannot produce one smart MP”. The academic and politician Jamil Hasanli attracts attention to the failure of the authorities to reduce import and dependence of Azerbaijan economy on the foreign produce, as in 7 months of this year the import increased by 14%. Speaking about “ smart villages”  and with this “smart ideas” they have turned the country into a mad house. He argues that behind these projects  so far there has been corruption and rip off the people. It is reported that the court hearings on the corruption during the construction of the apartment buildings for the journalists continued. At the court hearings of the  accused Vugar Safarli  the former head of the department of the presidential apparatus Ali Hasanov, his son and his in-law spoke as witnesses. But as Tofig Yagubly observes, it is often the witnesses almost immediately are turned into the accused in our judicial processes”. Altay Geyushov describes his journey in Turkey and an effective work of local municipalities, contrast it to Azerbaijani ones and explain this difernece by the fact, that municipalities in Turkey are elected organs, while in Azerbaijan –“appointed”.

Planning Elections. The platform Azad Soz reports that the old chair of the State Election Commission was reappointed again, in spite of the cancellations of the results in the previous elections due to the falsifications. It considers it the sign of the approaching fraudulent election. The activists quote president’s assurances that in the 44 day war he followed all legal rules and norms and wonder why does not he follow rules in the elections? “ Does the opponent in the elections have to be ethnic Armenian to make president follow the norms and rules?- asks a rhetoric question Tofig Yagublu, “ or should a constituency be Armenian to be allowed to exercise freedom of assembly during the election campaign?”.

Situation in Afghanistan. People comment on the long article by MP Samed Seyidov  published by with his interpretation of the events in Afghanistan. Altay Geyushov argues, that the idea that Afghan government was corrupt  and the US ignored it is right, but the impudence of the author is unlimited. Samadov judges Afghanistan, he argues, as if there are no billions of stolen money in his own country, and if the US or CoE does not ignore corruption and falsified elections in Azerbaijan. Geyushov concludes addressing MP Samadov that however corrupt is Afghan government it will never reach the corruption of his own government. Rashad Shirin considers that probably of Russia stayed in Afghanistan, similar to Central Asia,  it would be better, because the governance system, which  the US tried to apply here- did not work. Ali Karimli of PFP using official statistics of suicides in Azerbaijan shows that their number is 5 times higher than monthly troops losses of the US army in Afghanistan. He appeals to society to think seriously about these numbers- why should people of the country with 50 b. currency reserves, which defeated the enemy, be so desperate and commit suicide? The political commentator in exile Ramiz Yunus argues that people should not be surprised by the behavior of Taliban, as the Bolsheviks did the same in the 1920s in the FSU. The FB community shares widely the videos about Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Afghanistan and the quotation from the NATO Secretary General appreciating the contribution of Azerbaijan in peacekeeping operation. The FB community continues to discuss the horrifying scenes in the Kabul airport. Natig Jafarli of REAL speculates on the heartbreaking video of an Afghani fathers passing their children to the foreign troops to be taken away from Kabul. He reminds the story of Steve Jobs, who was a son of the Syrian refugee, but was adopted by the other family. Jafarli hopes that the fate of the small children abroad will be as successful as that of the Steve Jobs. Tofig Yagublu compares the assertion that  Taliban are more moderate and promised more freedoms to the late Heydar Aliyev promises in 1993 upon his arrival to power, that there will be more democracy than before. He parallels the two promises and suggests that the one by Taliban will not be fulfilled either.

August 24, 2021

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