Center for National and International Studies
“…To govern the nation-victor you have to be a statesman, people’s leader… and do not consider the state your father’s property..”
Post-conflict developments. The FB shares with concern reports about Armenia’s attack on Azerbaijani positions on the 25th August at 15:45 in Ashagi Jibikli village of Gubadli region.They report that Armenian soldier stabbed Azerbaijani Shirali Aslanov in the chest. The FB readers find controversy in relations of Azerbaijan to the peacekeeping: “ the country hosts peacekeepers of the other state ( Russia), while sending its peacekeeping troops to another country” (Afghanistan). The activists, journalists and bloggers continue to discuss Russia’s role and Azerbaijan’s not attending the Crimea platform meeting in Ukraine. Natig Jafarli of REAL considers that relations with Russia will inevitably be spoiled, so Azerbaijan should prepare for that. In regards support for Ukraine, he considers that one can show it in discrete way too and calls the society to be pragmatic. The Azadlyg newspaper published an article by Rafig Manafli “ Why I. Aliyev is afraid of the nation-victor?”. The author argues that the victor in the 44 day war was the army and the people, but they are not officially celebrated and treated as victors, but only the president is. He explains it by his fear of the nation, who won the war, because it is difficult in such case to tolerate failed policies and that’s why it is oppressed, humiliated and persecuted. The FB community also shares with indignation the news that Russians had erected the 50 meters of height and 5 meter width Russian flag in Karabagh on the occasion of the National flag day in Russia. One of the activists comment: “ There is no place for you in this country, you, Russians, are occupiers, there is a mass hatred towards your presence, because your hands were drenched in the blood of Azerbaijani people for centuries, so leave yourself before you are expelled by people!” The opposition activist Dashgin Aghalarli considers erection of Russian flag in Karabagh an insult of the martyrs, nation’s dignity, which started earlier – on the 10th November 2020 – as a repetition of the 28 April of 1920 – official acceptance of the Russian occupation. Azadlyg newspaper writes about dilemma of Ilham Aliyev, who tries to manoeuvre between three state and leaders: Putin, Erdogan and Biden, and analyses whom did he fear most. The ex-premier Panah Huseyn comments, that judging by various information, one should expect the peace agreement between the two parties involving by the expression of Putin, “painful and difficult compromises” is approaching. He demands disclosure of what kind of compromises are expected from Azerbaijan, as this is a right of people to know it.
Perception of Armenia. The Fb readers share and comment on the fight in the Armenian parliament. The reason was a statement of the speaker of the ruling faction Ayk Sargsian that all the defence ministers of the country were traitors, who freed young people from military service for bribe or by the telephone call. Ahad Mammadli of AG Party considers that Pashinian does want to sign a peace agreement with Azerbaijan, but has to take into account the composition of the parliament and the presence of the radical forces there.
Social protection. The author Elchin Rustamli writes in the Azadlyg newspaper about reduction of the number of people receiving pensions and social benefits. According to the State Statistics Committee, during the first half of year 2021 this number decreased by 22 thousands, while during last year – by 43 thousand, and in the last 4 years – by 114 thousand people. He lists the reasons of this trend: the increase of the retirement age, while life expectancy level being in the range of 60 years, the state policy, which forcibly and administratively reduces the number of recipients of pensions and benefits. He stresses that in spite of the alarming trends, there are no serious debates on this topic in the society.
Fuad Gahramanli of PFP writes that the authorities instead of fighting corruption, deprive the poor of their often the only source of subsistence- social protection and benefits. Instead of boasting about 600 m. of surplus in the budget, they should pay attention to the families, whom they deprived of the social benefits. The state, which is boasting of the currency reserves like a thief or bandit is saving on the bread money of the families in need. Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR states that “the number of pensioners in grave exceed those alive”. He observes that with the growing unemployment, the number of recipients of the targeted social aid is decreasing. Azerbaijan per 1000 of population among other FSU states has the lowest number of pensioners. ( 127 compare to 297 in Russia or 158 in Armenia). The other trend, which he stresses is that majority of getting the targeted support are women (87,1%) , most probably – housewives, which means their situation will be desperate after reaching the pension age. The minimum pension in the country is 200 manats ( 100 dollars), average pension – is 361 manat.
President Aliyev issued a decree about giving an apartments to the awarded by “ The hero of patriotic war” order.
Azerbaijan and Crimea Platform. The activists and journalists continue to decry Azerbaijan’s non-participation in the Crimea Platform in Kiev. The civil activist Zohrab Ismayil calls it “a big shame.”. He argues that this is despite significant support Ukraine gave to Azerbaijan during 44 day war and even the issue of Crimea Tatars did not motivate the leadership to join it. Arif Hajili, the leader of Musavat Party, on behalf of his party greets the Crimea Platform and categorically decries the non-participation of Azerbaijan in this meeting. He reports that this meeting united representatives of NATO, EU and 46 countries, who asserted their support for the principle of territorial integrity. This meeting would have an important impact for the Karabagh problem, but the president missed this opportunity to promote national interests in order to please Russia. Musavat also expresses its deep belief that this principle will be a guiding one in resolution of all post-Soviet conflicts. Fuad Gahramanli of the Popular Front Party argues that the platform created by Ukraine with serious support of the West is a global geopolitical project. There is not a single argument in favour or justification of non-participation of Azerbaijan in this platform. Because this platform would help Azerbaijani officials to respond to the aggression of Putin and gain allies among the Western states. Instead, Aliyev opted not to join it, fearing Russia. But what can Russia do worse than it has already done, – asks Gahramanali– Zakharova has humiliated both the leader and the whole nation by her answer. He argues that because of the absence of resolute position and specific policy measures in response to Russia’s policy and aggressive statements, the latter will not change, moreover will be increasingly developing against Azerbaijan’s national interests. “Instead of addressing this trend, the Azerbaijani officials are hiding behind Maduro of the useless Non-Allied movement , as if they built an invincible fortress around our country”. The PFP activist notes that there have been only losses of this policy by Aliyev, as Russia has been treating Karabagh as its own territory, strengthens the self-proclaimed regime, legitimizing it, resettling Armenian population, openly arms Armenia for the new war. After all this, he concludes, to refuse from participation in the Crimea Platform means to show that similar to elections, diplomacy is also fake in this country. The representative of the consistent opposition discredit statements by the so called “ bus opposition” ( loyal to the government one), who tried to justify non-participation of the Azerbaijani officials in the Crimea Platform. The celebration of the independence day of Ukraine and especially the military parade videos had numerous views and shares. Ali Karimli reports that celebration of the Independence Day was attended by 4 consecutive presidents of Ukraine, and similar picture was observed couple of months ago in Armenia, when 3 former presidents joined the current one Pashinian. He comments that gradually everyone builds its state and develops, while domestic relations are getting more civilized. Azerbaijan continues to have its problems: Ilham Aliyev, he argues, does not recognize the Independence Day of the country as a day to celebrate and did not make 18th October a national holiday. Besides, all the FSU states celebrate 30 June – the collapse of the Soviet Union and restoration of their independence, except for Azerbaijan. How can Aliyev explain to observers that he ignores this date because it happened thanks to his political rivals, not himself? Karimli considers that 30 years of independence’s results are not inspiring, and it should be a stimulus of the new wave of debates in society, which would involve both older and younger generation. “ Azerbaijan needs new national mobilization to return to the path of republic”, he concludes.
Human rights and liberties. Azad Soz website posted video of the violent police dispersal of the protest action by the 40 Afghans living in Azerbaijan, who tried to attract attention to the problems of refugees. The FB community expresses concern and indignance in its comments, predicting negative consequences of such police behaviour towards Afghanis. Tofig Yagublu of Musavat and NCDF comments on the former minister of finance Fikret Yusifov “discrediting” ex-speaker of the parliament Rasul Guliyev (currently in exile in the US). Yagublu stresses that in fact Yusifov discredits not Rasul Guliyev, but the current authorities. In attempt to show his loyalty to the government Yusifov reminds the readers that in order to put pressure on Rasul Guliyev the authorities gave sentences totalling 300 years to his relatives and friends, were monitoring his telephone etc. Afghan Mukhtarli updates on the youth activist Bayram Mammadov case, who mysteriously drown in the sea in Istanbul. He writes, that the Istanbul straights are monitored by 29 street cameras, besides numerous boats patrolling it. He concludes that this is simply shameless to say that there was no camera at the place where Bayram has drown. The representatives of the Toplan animal shelter sued the activists of the animal rights movement Nijat Ismayilov, Aynur Babazade, Elkhan Mirzayev and Ilhama Nasirova for libel and slander, which demands them paying 100,000 manat of fine. Meydan TV reports unjustified firing of the only breadwinner of the family, the cleaner Sevda Safarova from her job at SOCAR Absheron Drilling Company. She supports the family of her daughter and 3 grandchildren, one of whom has a mental illness. The FB community widely comments on the complaint by the ex-head of the department on work with political parties and organizations of the presidential apparatus Ali Hasanov, that his sex videos are used as compromat against him. Many comment, that it is an irony that created by Ali Hasanov system of trolls, blackmail videos etc. is now working against himself. Some jokingly noted that “ At his age the sex video is not a compromat but a compliment” . The story of Ali Hasanov has titles like “ Ali Hasanov is hit by his own tool” “ Ali Hasanov and the Boomerang effect”. The latter is also quoted in connection with the firing of the daughter of Ali Hasanov from the position of the head of the department of the State University: the human rights defender Rufat Safarov recalls that while he was in prison both his sister and mother were fired from their jobs by the direct instruction of Ali Hasanov. The human rights defender Elshan Hasanov states, that his organization observed increased number of human rights and freedoms violations in the country. The Center on Monitoring of the Political Prisoners has published its next report, which reflects violation of citizens rights, violent dispersal of the peaceful actions, persecution of the activists and believers. Especially noted is the violent dispersal of the 8th March and 4th August feminists’ rallies, and the animal rights defenders’ action of the 8th July. The report also contains the cases of violation of the right of expression, such as sentence of 8 months of imprisonment to a journalist Elchin Hasanzade and blogger Ibrahim Turksoy accused in insult by the complaint of the head of the communal department of the Mingechavir city council Shahriyar Mustafayev. The Monitoring Center argues that the true reasons of the detention is their disclosure of corruption of the local bureaucrats. Similarly, the journalist Jamil Mammadli was sued by the Executive Power of the Guba region for criticism of its head. The monitoring also revealed beating up the Karabagh war veterans by the police: Ilkin Hasanpur -in Dashkesan police station, Elvin Badalov and Kenan Ashurov – by the Agstafa police. It also reports detained participants of the religious mourning Ashura. It states, that all prisoners are given tortures. There is no sufficient evidence against the accused in the Ganja case, except for Yunis Safarov.
Azad Soz FB site reports the protest of transgender people in front of the Garadag police station. LGBT plus organization members also had a vigil in front of the office of the Ombudsman Office.Earlier they reported the murder of the transgender person in the district. Police reported that the suspect was detained. The youth leader Bakhtiyar Hajiyev reports that he got a phone call from the Ganja City Police Station simply for sharing the information about the festival in Ganja. They asked him if the event was agreed upon with the local authorities, although he was not an organizer, but simply shared an information. He argues, that the police and security are so preoccupied with monitoring opposition, that they are not capable to get any other information, while keeping all the contacts for the activists in use. He jokes, that tomorrow they will call him or another activist to ask for an information about the drug dealers. The Azadlyq newspaper writes about the trend of Muslims escaping to the Christian countries and reasons behind it.
The head of the ecological movement Ecofront Javid Gara reports that their struggle of protection of the woods in Haftoni succeeded and now deforestation under excuse of agricultural development all over the country has stopped. He reminds also the devastating situation with the woods on the state borders in the village Najafkend in Gusar region, but which was stopped after their interference. “We did all we could, but there is so much more to do that one life is not enough- it will be continued by the future generations”
Democracy and power-opposition relations. The political and civil leaders continue to react and comment to the statement by the MP Malahat Ibrahimgizi, that people mistrust the officials because of their ignorance. The leader of the youth branch of PFP Emil Salim argues that if the people were ignorant why does majority hate this regime? Why to falsify elections the authorities have to mobilize all the administrative resource? Why the only tool of this government is repressions? He admits that people might be indifferent to their own fates as a result of the 100 years of totalitarianism, but they can tell just from unjust, truth from lies. He calls ignorant those who in the 21st century have been governing people in feudal way and try to bring them back to the middle ages. “ We should save the state from the hands of these calling themselves elite backward people and start re-building it.” The leader of the AG Party Tural Abbasly states that the sooner the parliament which consists of such MPs is dissolved- the better. People praise and support decision of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev to sue president Aliyev for blocking his comment on the president’s FB page, because as the activist wrote on his timeline, this violates freedom of expression and discrimination based on the political stance of the citizen and contradicts the 10th and 14th article of the European Convention. The well known critic of all parties former social- democrat Zardusht Alizade gave an interview to Meydan TV describing the system in the country as a barbarian one and commenting that Azerbaijan’s place is not Europe, but the Equatorial Africa. The NGO leader and peacemaking activist Avaz Hasanov posted a statement reflecting his view on how the State Agency on Support for NGOs, which he was appointed to as a Board member, should fulfill its functions. Three members of the Presidium of the Popular Front – Mammad Ibrahim, Bakhtiyar Imanov and Fuad Gahramanli -reported most recently being monitored by the police and people in civilian clothes, taking it as a signal of possible provocation.
Governance, Economy, Corruption. Azad Soz interviewed diplomat in exile Arif Shahmarli on the issue of why Azerbaijan received the smallest amount of EU aid. The diplomat attributed it to the corruption and recalled the case of the “company” registered in Belgium when he was an Ambassador in Brussel. It appeared that the company which won most of the tenders on the EU projects did not exist, so there is no trust in the Azerbaijani government in this regard anymore. The activists and experts again discuss the issue of profitability of the international airports in the country. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev quotes the statistics of the flights to compare the airport traffic in Azerbaijan and Georgia, with the latter significantly exceeding the former and question the commercial viability of the projects which the government initiated and supported. The FB community ridicules the statement by one of the MP (Malahat Ibrahimgizi) that the society’s mistrust of the representatives of the official power is a result of people’s ignorance. The activists share the story with the owner of the restaurant network of Shaurma 1 Agil Babayev, who was arrested under peculiar circumstances. In June this year he appealed to the State Security Service, Ministry for Internal Affairs, Presidential administration, General Prosecutor’s office in connection of kidnapping and taking him hostage, stealing 9 m. manat from his home, attempt of murder. However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs after investigating the case arrests the complainer himself accusing him of fraud and cheating. The readers find it strange that in spite of 21 years of cheating , the state organs found out about it only after he was kidnapped, and money was stolen. The ruling party MPs praise the role of the vice-president Mehriban Aliyeva in the current Azerbaijan’s status and development. The MP Siyavush Novruzov lists on his timeline the merits of the first vice-president, the president of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the good will Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO Mehriban Aliyeva. Among them are numerous social projects, such as hospitals, schools, kindergartens. According to him, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has implemented the ideas of H. Aliyev and covers all the aspects of the social life of the country. She keeps the strengthening of Azerbaijan;s image under permanent attention. In addition, she is very active as the deputy head of the ruling Party YAP. She has contributed to the rehabilitation and
treatment of the war heroes and arranged the music festival in Shusha Khari-bulbul. He concludes, that she enjoys high reputation all over the world. The similar essay was written about Mehriban Aliyeva by the MP Zahid Oruj. Ali Karimli responds to another slander of the president addressed to the PFP-Musavat:” If instead of the work on real issues, Aliyev will continue to blame our parties on every occasion, there will be time, we will also remind often of his activities!”.
Events in Afghanistan. The Fb users share reports that spokesperson of the ruling party in Turkey Omar Chelik stated that Turkey will not accept any refugees from Afghanistan and will be monitoring its borders. Ahad Mammadli of AG party comments that while official Turkey welcomes Talibans, it is seriously concerned about possible flow of refugees and sent additional troops to strengteh its borders with Iran. It also started to build a concrete wall on the 295 km long state border with Iran. Turkey is already hosting 4 m. refugees from the neighboring states, mainly from Syria. Mammadli does not believe that the EU will give an aid to the new refugees, as did not give it to the old ones. He concludes that compared to the other countries, Afghanis prefer to stay in their own country and resist, rather than escape, so one should not expect the refugee crisis in case of Afganistan.
COVID-19. FB users share their desperation and helplessness in personal experience with infection. One of them –Elshad Ahmadov -writes that TABIB is useless, as they are late with the tests and their results, neither they help with medicine. He argues that while TABIB says there are no pills in the country, the pharmacies have them, but for unaffordable for the ordinary citizens prices. “The poor should die”, he comments. He shares that the results of the test, which appeared to be positive, came after his uncle already died. Meydan TV quotes professor of the Azerbaijan Medical University Sadraddin Atakishizade, who stresses two ways of preventing the spread of infection- vaccination and keeping the social distance and wearing the face masks. He notes that the natural way of development of the anti-bodies- results from getting infected and sick, while double vaccination is another way to protect the body from infection. He also mentions that it might be that after 6 months people may need the 3d vaccination, and later- even the 4th or the 5th until the pandemic is over. The journalist Parviz Hashimli attracts attention to the contradictory provisions of the Law on Prevention of the Infections – the article 5 says that in the conditions of spread of infection the vaccines are mandatory, while the article 6 – that vaccination is conducted on the voluntary basis. The human rights defenders, lawyers, activists stress ineffectiveness of the health system in dealing with infection. The lawyer Alasgar Ahmadoglu reports 150 people in the queue in the Yasamal district #39 clinic’s narrow corridor waiting for the medical service, which is realized only by one doctor, a nurse and an registration assistant, and demands to stop this “ anarchy”. Samir Kazimli speaks about total mistrust of the authorities by people due to the permanent lies, which the latter hears from the former as the reason of non-vaccination. The other activist- Zohrab Ismayil– comments, that it is a shared opinion, that the reason of the 3d wave of infection in Azerbaijan is rotten and corrupt health system in the country. They say, that 20-30% of COVID vaccine passports are fake.
August 27, 2021