Center for National and International Studies



“Stealing billions of dollars from the state budget doesn’t jeopardize statehood for some reason, but apparently, it is considered a serious threat to statehood when 5-10 children of Talish origin recite a few poems in their mother language…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

The pre-trial detention period for journalist Nargiz Absalamova, arrested in connection with the “AbzasMedia” criminal case, has been extended. On February 24, the Khatai District Court reviewed the prosecutor’s presentation on this matter. The defense argued in court that the investigation is still ongoing, and various investigative measures must be conducted in relation to this criminal case. They justified her detention during this period, citing concerns that her release could potentially impact the ongoing investigation and legal proceedings. Nargiz Absalamova and her lawyer opposed the presentation, stating that she is innocent of any crime and is being penalized for her journalistic activities.

The Khatai District Court has extended the pre-trial detention period for Elnur Hasanov, a member of the Narimanov Branch of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AXCP), for an additional month. The details of his court hearing are being kept confidential. Following the session, Elnur Hasanov, who faces narcotics charges, revealed that no investigative actions had been taken against him throughout the three months. He refutes the narcotics accusations and links his arrest to his public statements against the leadership of the Main Traffic Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In May 2017, an appeal complaint was submitted concerning the widespread torture suffered by hundreds of soldiers and officers in Tartar. This was paralleled by similar incidents in Beylagan. Currently, five individuals, including one general, are in custody due to the reported torture in Beylagan. They assert that Zeynal Agayev, the Chief of the Baku Military Court, failed to conduct an objective investigation into these crimes. The defense attorneys have reiterated their objections in the court of appeal, emphasizing that reaching an objective and fair decision is impossible without addressing the torture incidents. The questioning and torture of soldiers in Beylagan were directly executed under the orders and supervision of Corps Commander Mais Barkhudarov and his deputy Elshad Abilov. Despite this, these individuals not only evade criminal responsibility but have not been questioned even as witnesses. The legal representatives have restated their requests for the examination of former Chief of General Staff Najmaddin Sadigov, Corps Commander General-Lieutenant Mais Barkhudarov, and Elshad Abilov in the courtroom. Additionally, they insist on a judicial inquiry into the appeals, encompassing the interrogation of witnesses and victims, as well as the scrutiny of evidence.

MP Azer Badamov told “Pravda.ru” that gathering people independently and promoting undisclosed goals under the pretext of organizing the “Mother Language” event is against the law. He added that the organization of such events should comply with the law on the “Freedom of Assembly.” The MP argued that holding “Mother Language” event in Lankaran is perceived as opposing state policy. He suggests that events in public places should also be organized in accordance with the law on the “Freedom of Assembly.” If someone wants to organize any event, they should coordinate with the Executive Authority of the administrative territory where they intend to hold the event. Gathering people independently in cafes and promoting undisclosed goals under the pretext of organizing the “Mother Language” event is against the law, he added. However, MP’s words met with objections as they contradicted the current law on the rights of minorities in the country. Chairperson of the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) Jamil Hasanli commented on MP’s statement saying that the language and culture of the ethnic minorities living in Azerbaijan are an integral part of the country’s cultural wealth. The state’s responsibility is to preserve this rich cultural heritage and contribute to its development. According to the Constitution, every ethnic group living in the country has the right to develop, promote, and take pride in its own language, culture, and historical traditions. If people want to gather and recite poetry in their mother tongue, they should not need permission from the police or the Ministry of Internal Affairs. “Stealing billions of dollars from the state budget doesn’t jeopardize statehood for some reason, but apparently, it is considered a serious threat to statehood when 5-10 children of Talish origin recite a few poems in their mother language”, added Hasanli.

Governance and Corruption

On February 22, the UK High Court initiated the examination of the case involving the £39.5 million (approximately $50 million) frozen assets linked to Azerbaijani Member of Parliament Javanshir Feyziyev and his wife in London. These assets were subject to freezing based on the High Court’s decision dated June 23, 2023. Prior to this, the National Crime Agency had raised concerns about millions of pounds in the bank accounts of Feyziyev‘s family. The agency asserted that these funds were associated with the international money laundering scheme known as the “Azerbaijani Laundromat,” exposed by OCCRP in 2017. In 2022, the UK had already seized £5.6 million (approximately $7.56 million) from these funds. The confiscated funds were identified in the bank accounts of Feyziyev‘s wife, son Orxan, and relative Elman Cavanşir. The National Crime Agency contended that there were “strong indications” that the properties obtained by Feyziyev and his wife were derived from funds involved in the laundering of illicit money, leading to the freezing of the assets. The freezing of these properties prohibits their sale or transfer to another owner. The document submitted to the Anti-Corruption Agency notes the presence of “extremely complex financial transactions” involving companies participating in money laundering with “inconsistent, false, or fabricated descriptions.” In 2020, during the investigation into his involvement in dirty money operations, Feyziyev acquired his most expensive property – two residences in the lavish “Chelsea Barracks” complex, valued at £26 million ($33.4 million), with his wife, son, and brother’s son. Other frozen properties include an apartment overlooking “Regent’s Park” and 19 units in a newly constructed building in northwest London. Feyziyev bought the properties between 2008 and 2018 for £10 million ($13.7 million) and later transferred them to a foundation without compensation. Since 2010, Feyziyev served as the member of the parliament and participated in the Azerbaijan-UK Inter-Parliamentary Working Group. He also collaborated with the European Union-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee until 2022. A few months after the UK court confirmed the seizure of more than £5.6 million from accounts belonging to his relatives, he resigned from these positions.

Jamil Hasanli, the Chairperson of the NCDF, commented on the corruption scandal involving MP Feyziyev, asserting that the MP had been involved in all the money laundering and embezzlement activities with a close connection and knowledge of the ruling Aliyev family. Hasanli’s social media post: You may remember last year how Javanshir Feyziyev used to insult and accuse Gubad Ibadoghlu and myself. In fact, one reason for Gubad‘s arrest is related to this. Ilham Aliyev, a suspect in the money laundering case, awarded Feyziyev the “Glory” order, while Gubad Ibadoghlu, who exposed Feyziyev’s financial machinations outside of Azerbaijan, was arrested and falsely accused of counterfeiting dollars. Undoubtedly, Feyziyev could not have amassed such wealth on his own in the country without the knowledge of the head of state. His criminal actions, coupled with receiving the “Glory” order, indicate that he is directly involved in corruption together with the ruling family. The irony is that despite such blatant theft, he maintains an image of “a scholar.” In the country where so-called scholars can write a preface to Nizami Ganjavi’s “The Azerbaijani Poet Nizami,” and even produce a 5-volume history of Turkic peoples and meanwhile have 22 illegal properties in London, worth $50 million.”

Azadlig newspaper covered a minor corruption case implicating a secondary school teacher. In the video evidence, the principal of Secondary School No. 4 in Mingachevir is observed accepting bribes from teachers. The teacher offered a bribe of 400 manats to the principal for extra teaching hours.

February 27, 2024