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Center for National and International Studies




“…Occupation by the Bolsheviks on 27 April is one of the most tragic days of our history…”

FB users continue to  discuss the recognition of Biden of events of 1915 as a genocide and its impact on Azerbaijan-US relations, are concerned with the interruption of support for treatment of human rights defender Ogtay Gulaliyev, and the non-transparent  execution of restoration projects in the liberated regions, decry Russia’s disrespect of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty, to include PutinMacron’s recent telephone conversation, commemorate the 101st year of Azerbaijan’s occupation by the Bolsheviks, and are disappointed by the unchanged composition of the Central Election Commission.

Post-war situation. The media reports, with reference to Armenian social networks, on the exhibition in Khankendi, in Karabagh, entitled “Azerbaijan – the enemy of civilization”. The exhibition which will last 2 weeks was arranged by the local ‘ministry of education’ and some ‘state committee’. Civil and political leaders express serious concern at the PutinMacron telephone conversation on Karabagh. Le Figaro reports that both leaders will soon come up with proposals on the issue, and expressed the necessity for specific steps toward the resolution of the problem with “captured, humanitarian support and protection of the cultural heritage”. They agreed to restore and continue negotiations within the framework of the Minsk Group OSCE. The leader of ADR, Gubad Ibadoglu, stresses that the recent discussions on Karabagh are taking place without Azerbaijan. He comments that unlike Putin, who spoke with Macron on the 26th April, and with Pashinian on the 24th, Ilham Aliyev is busy allocating 2b manats to inflated projects of restoration within the liberated territories. He comments that restoration is not the president’s duty, but that of the prime minister, while the president should fully assess the new situation with Karabagh, undertake respective steps, consult with allies and make trips to Istanbul and Islamabad. The other activist criticises the Karabagh policies of Aliyev, saying that his message to the world should have been “You did not help us in 27 years to return our lands back in a peaceful way, so we had to return part of these lands by force. But a certain part is still under occupation and if you do not want a new war, please, put pressure on the country who occupies it to withdraw peacefully. The sanctions were applied to Russia, should also be applied to Armenia”. Instead, he continues, Aliyev says that the conflict is over and the integrity is restored but does it against a background of helmets, thus discrediting Azerbaijan and accelerating the separation of Karabagh based on Putin’s scenario. BIZ TV discusses the issue of the transfer of $7m in 2017 and $211m in 2018, from Baku to Yerevan, disclosed by the World Bank, the claims of Yerevan that the Azerbaijan army has moved forward 370 metres in Agdere, the pressure on Azerbaijan in regards “prisoners of war”, the happy reaction of the Armenians to the recognition of events of 1915 as a genocide by Joe Biden and others.

Relations with the US. Civil and political leaders and public opinion makers continue to react and comment on the recognition of the 1915 events as genocide by Biden. Eldar Namazov, ex-advisor to former President Heydar Aliyev, considers that in the past Turkey as well as Azerbaijan, were very dependent on the US, and policies were very much dependent on this factor. But now 10 years later, things have changed, and Turkey became independent, as the events in the Middle East show, and it is confronting both the US and France. He considers that this issue – the recognition of the events of 1915 as a genocide – has exhausted its power as a pressure tool and Biden got rid of it, recognising that its power is over. Turkey, he comments,  is a regional power and nobody can speak to it by means of pressure. The recognition by Biden is like throwing a stone into a quickly moving train. Namazov also considers that the new international order is emerging and it is based not on the basis of liberal civilization, or membership in military blocks, but as member of Trump’s administration once said – based on the sovereign interests of the states. He considers that there is a worry that a new block is emerging – Azerbaijani-Turkish, so that Biden’s statement may also indirectly be a reaction to the 44-days war. Due to the competition between Russia and US for influence over Armenia, Russia is also concerned because Biden’s statement is a support to Pashinian. Namazov confirmed his idea, that Armenia behaves as a geopolitical project of the big powers to weaken Turkey. He concludes that neither Azerbaijan nor Turkey have any claims or attempts on the other state’s sovereignty. The leader of the Umud Party, Igbal Agazade, argues that Biden’s statement is an indicator that the West does not want the strengthening of Turkey. Ibadoglu reports that in reaction to his critical comment on Joe Biden’s recognition of “genocide”, which received 2000 ‘likes’, the Armenian FB users threatened to report this to his University in the USA. He suggests that it seems they have no capacity to conduct a dialogue and they consider that if one is based in a US University, he cannot criticise the president. The political commentator Ramiz Yunus argues that Joe Biden has made a few mistakes upon arrival to power. 1) Did not impose sanctions against the Saudi prince 2) Did not make Germany close the North Stream gas pipeline construction 3) Declared “modus vivendi” in relations with Russia, instead of cutting her off from the SWIFT system, imposing embargo on oil imports, and freezing of a trillion dollars of Putin’s cronies 4) Made a biased statement about events of 1915 as a genocide, which is directed against Turkey, which has been member of NATO and strategic partner of the US in the region. He argues that this will strengthen anti-Western and anti-American attitudes in all Turkic speaking states, because Biden, similar to Macron, forgot about neutrality as a co-chairman in the Minsk group, one-sidedly supporting the Armenian party to the conflict.  The activists and journalists also discuss Erdogan’s reaction to the statement, demanding Biden to reverse this recognition.  The activists report that the company ‘Silk Way’, belonging to the family of President Aliyev, purchased 5 Boeings from the US for $1,6b. They also note that the next day US State Secretary Blinken called Ilham Aliyev. Media reports that he spoke about democracy and the Karabagh issue with Aliyev. Blinken stressed the importance of the continuation of the Minsk Group format negotiations. FB users also share the content of twitter by Blinken, that the conversation with Aliyev on the importance of bilateral cooperation was a good excuse to send a message on the necessity to continue negotiations within Minsk Group. The Azerbaijani official media reported that Aliyev thanked the US for their support of the South Gas Corridor project, informed about the post- war situation and restoration of the liberated territories and importance of the unblocking of communications in the region.

Human rights. The FB community commemorates the birthday of the late female activist and member of Popular Front Party, Gozel Bayramli. Ali Karimli calls his late deputy Bayramli the “symbol of our struggle.” She was arrested when already very sick upon her return from her treatment in Georgia, when her prescriptions and medicines were taken away, and was deliberately deprived of treatment in prison for two months. After that, the seriously ill female politician was kept in prison for 2 years on trumped-up charges. He reminds his followers that she declined her career when young to dedicate herself to the struggle for democracy. She is a role model for future generations, as she never surrendered or lost her spirit under pressure and persecution by the regime. “While her life was interrupted, her struggle did not” states Ali Karimli, “and I am sure we, her colleagues, and all people, will succeed in building a free and just society in our homeland”. The FB community shares good news from the son of the human rights defender Ogtay Gulaliyev, who was hit by a vehicle and has started to show signs of recovery. However, the family has run out of resources to support his health, and the TABIB state agency is not reacting to the request of the family to provide for nurses to continue the treatment. The mothers of the 11 arrested in Tovuz are in desperation staging a protest in front of the serious crimes court building. Meydan TV reports the clashes in Nardaran village between the police and local citizens, who were not allowed to participate in the burial of war hero Huseyn Khalilov, who died in the military hospital after 6 months in a coma. The villagers were beaten and some detained by the police. The human rights defender Rufat Safarov shares the information by the journalist Ruslan Farzaliyev, that parents and families of the prisoners bring 200-300 manat worth of food monthly to the prison to support their imprisoned family members, such as Mushvig Ahmadli, who has been sentenced for 16 years. Where are the reforms of the penitentiary? asks the author – and explains their absence by the fact that the Minister of Justice is a relative of Aliyev.  The FB community decries yet another injustice in regards one of the prominent democratic female activists Gultakin Hajibeyli. They have started to add interest to the punishment of 85,000 manats which the court demanded her to pay and it has now reached 91,000 manats. They justify adding 7% interest rate by non-payment within 10 days. She contrasts this speedy decision to the past decision of the court in her favour when she was an MP, which was not executed in 3 years.  The activists also decry the arrest of the former sportsman Seyid Bakuvi who joined the Popular Front Party and sentenced him on trumped-up charges for 3 years 6 months. The PFP activists and journalists also follow another court hearing of the Karabagh rally prisoners. It appeared that in violation of the law, witnesses were testifying either while in detention, or under the direct control of the police. The human rights defender Rufat Safarov warns the community that the government may not allow to disclose the real culprits and organizers of the Ter-ter case. He urges his followers to mobilise and be consistent in achieving a fair investigation to disclose the true organisers of the crime in Ter-ter. The human rights defenders continue to share news that UN has demanded freedom for ex-MP Huseyn Abdullayev, who had political refugee status in Germany, but was arrested in 2018 in Turkey and extradited to Azerbaijan, where he was sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment. The activists commemorate the 4th year since the death from torture in prison of the journalist Mehman Galandarov.

Democracy and power-society relations. The activists, journalists and bloggers are deeply disappointed with the outcome of the ‘reform’ in the Central Election Commission in the parliament. They preserved the old composition with the same chair, Mazahir Panahov, except for one member of this commission. Panah Huseyn states, that serious political reforms mean free and fair elections. However, expectations were buried by retaining the same composition and chair of the Central Election Commission. The Musavat party held a conference dedicated to the 101 years of occupation of Azerbaijan by Russia on 27th April 1920. The leader of the party Arif Hajili stated on his timeline, that “101 years ago Bolsheviks occupied the country with some of the government, like Gen. Shixlinski, Chingiz Ildrim, Mahammad Hasan Hajincki facing them without any resistance. Although just on the eve of this occupation, within the Bolshevik movement and the party’s leadership there was not a single Azerbaijani: 3 Armenians, 2 Russians and 1 Georgian. The country fell under the total control of Moscow and the governance was entrusted to predominantly Russian and Armenian Bolsheviks. From 1920-1, 48,000 became victims to the Red Terror. From the military, 12 generals, 27 colonels, and 412 other rank commanders were shot. Those who resisted were killed in the following stages – the purges of the 1930s. April 27th is one of the most tragic days of our history. But we do not learn lessons from our tragedies, that’s why the 20th January Khojali tragedies took place. The Russian troops which were pushed out of the country by Elchibey’s government 27 years ago, were brought back in secretly overnight without consultation with the people. Now in Karabagh there is an occupying army who killed Javad khan by the gates to Ganja, occupied Azerbaijan on 27th April 2020, and committed massacres on 20th January in Khojali”, concludes Arif Hajili. The functionary of the ruling party YAP, Siyavush Novruz, compared the reasoning of the Council of Europe with that of the 26 Baku Commissars. He argues that Dunja Mijatovich in her criticism of the human rights violations in connection with the recent war in Karabagh and regret related to the Park of Trophies is following other aims, because she does not mention all the violations committed by the Armenian party, starting with 30 years of occupation, ethnic cleansing, and ending with not giving any map of the land mines. She exposes her double standards in every issue, including the Park of Trophies, forgetting about the statue of General Njde in Armenia, who committed horrific massacres of Azerbaijanis. Panah Huseyn, ex-premier in the PFP government times, in his interview to the 525 newspaper comments on the issue of the dialogue of the authorities with the political parties, which he is also a party to.  He considers that it might be positive only if the opposition is not a passive, but active party of the dialogue. He stressed some positive results of this dialogue, such as resolving the issue of offices for the parties, unity during the 44-day war, as well as increasing the attention of the public to the political parties. To the answer whether these relations should be mediated by foreign organisations, he responded this is not what he would wish, but it depends on the government and its will and capacity to conduct reforms. The victory in the last year war created conditions for the authorities to conduct serious reforms, which would allow the country to move to a totally new level of development. He also mentioned the proposal by the 12 parties of the “Radical Reforms in the Name of Change”. Regarding the Karabagh conflict, he considers that Artsakh is a terrorist structure and a source of instability in the region. The media reports local citizens of Saatli protesting at unfair distribution of arable lands in the village in front of the regional executive power office, demanding the head to come out. The FB community and e-media widely shares and comments on the last Freedom House report on Azerbaijan, where the country is categorised as an entrenched (stable) autocracy. The activists comment on the post-war situation in the country, some saying that there was no improvement as they had hoped, while others – that it had become even worse. Ali Karimli states that by all parameters – corruption and repressions Ilham Aliyev has brought the country back to the pre-war situation.

Relations with Russia. The FB community suggests that Aliyev’s compromises to Russia made the latter demand more. “Now Putin, who considers Karabagh his own, discusses it with president Macron”, comments one of the activists. The FB community shares the video about protest in front of the Russian embassy against the presence of its peacekeepers in Karabagh with the posters: “Ivan, go away!”  Ali Karimli of PFP argues that the ruling elite’s breaking the balance in the foreign policy and getting under the sphere of influence of Russia is fraught with many surprises, that’s why they will most probably reject the pressure to join the Eurasian Economic Union. 1)They do not want to lose control over their personal riches, 2) This will mean making the choice in favour of Russia,  and because this means the worsening of the political system, corruption,  there might be sanctions applied to the government of Azerbaijan by the West, This   in turn will threaten their property and business in the West. The FB readers shared information about the resolution of the European Parliament on cutting Russia out of the SWIFT system and putting an embargo on Russian oil and gas, if Russia continues its aggression against Ukraine.

Social issues. Meydan TV conducted street interviews with citizens on their views on how satisfactory state activities are on meeting the social needs of the war heroes. The majority of the respondents had an impression that their needs were not properly met by the government. The dwellers of the demolished houses on Sovetskii street continue their protest – this time in front of the Yasamal district executive power base. Azad Soz broadcasts the appeal of the Azerbaijani businessmen from abroad to the protesters. He argues that at the top of their problems is the president Aliyev, so the protesters’ appeal for his help is useless. He urges them to demand their rights, rather than tie their hopes to the president. Afghan Mukhtarli, the journalist in exile, reports that the authorities were threatened by the widely publicised event on the eviction of a woman and her family from her house in Zakatala region, which was circulated all over FB and caused of lot of support from society. The next day the authorities forced the woman to speak on video and insult those who supported her. FB users circulate and mourn 26-year-old war veteran Imdad Gahramanli who committed suicide as a result of the indifference of the state structures.

Governance, economy, corruption. The e-media writes about the “monopolisation of corruption”. The author argues that this is what lies behind the widely-spread meme that “Ilham Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva are good, but the surroundings are bad”. The FB community decries the nature of the award for resources for restoration works on the liberated territories. The State Committee on the City Planning and Architecture has allocated 2b 181m manat for  restoration of damaged buildings on territories of Jabrayil, Fizuli, Terter, Agjabedi, Goranboy, Naftalan, Beylagan, Mingechevir, Ganja, Agdam and Barda. However, the announced tender lasted only one week. Moreover, official data suggests that the restoration of 253 buildings in Ganja was already finished by 23 April, which means that the “tender” bore a rather formal character. According to the national legislation, companies with debts cannot participate in the tender, but three companies with debts were announced winners of it. Neither do they have functioning websites or e-data. The Azadlyg newspaper concludes that it seems that thousands of young lives were lost so that some bureaucrats would enrich themselves at the expense of those who died. Meydan TV reports the State Security Services operation in the Shamkir region and detention of the Head of Regional Executive Power, Alimpasha Mammadov, and some of his employees and their transfer to Baku. He sold the territory of the park in the city for 1m and then a second time for 300,000 manats to a construction company which built two high- rise blocks there. The journalist Avaz Zeinally observes a new tendency in the country. Local bureaucrats – small tyrants – sue the citizens, then make the “fair” courts punish them and pay high fines. He gives an example of the recently detained for 10 days citizen of Hajigabul region Bahlul Shikhaliyev by the Head of Executive Power Nurbala Mirazyev, simply for giving a critical interview to the media. The FB community shares the video material posted on the Azad Soz site, revealing the business and property empire of the Allah Shukur Pashazade, both in the country and abroad, mainly in the Czech Republic resort of Karlovi Vary. The author touched upon the source of his riches – a donations box at every mosque, which is totally non-transparent and non-taxable. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev questions the amount of resources allocated to various state-sponsored projects. He reports that the stationery expenses of just 18 people in Khachmaz regional culture office ‘cost’ the Ministry of Culture 112,000 manats. He comments on the photo of the President, his wife and the daughter embracing a tree in the region, which was widely circulated with ironic comments, that the solution is not in embracing the tree: there are so many unsolved problems in the country that all the appointed executives and MPs are hiding. He is referring to the recent news of the protest in the Saatli region in front of the executive power office, with the head of the executive power office having hidden from people. Afghan Mukhtarli comments with irony, that while the president and his family embrace the tree, another 700-year-old tree was cut down by the bureaucrat in Zakatala region; hundreds of trees were being felled in Dada Gorgud Park and other places. Habib Muntazir comments on the replacement of the fired and arrested chief doctor of the module-type hospital of the Ministry of Emergencies by Yegane Abbasova. He notes that she is a relative of the Deputy Minister of Emergencies, Gen-Leut. Faig Taghizade. The previous chief doctor, Imran Agayev, was also a relative of the same person.  The FB community shares news that indicates that Beylar Eyubov is being distanced from the presidential apparatus. Natig Jafarli questions the official statements about progress in agriculture and the non-oil sector of economy. He reports, that in the export of hazelnuts and tomatoes, usually given as a show case, this year there was a decline of respectively 2,7 times and by 21, 5%. Altay Geyushov comments that the current official elite have no reason to criticise the Soviet times on 28th April (the day of occupation of Azerbaijan by Bolsheviks), demonstrating this by comparison of infrastructure building during two periods. He reminds the FB community that in 24 years (since 1967) the Soviets had built 19 metro stations in Baku, while the current government only 5.5 in 30 years. Instead, the son of the bureaucrat has purchased a watch for 2m, which was stolen in Spain. “These guys can criticise the Soviet Union, but for the others is too early,” he concludes with irony.

April 30, 2021

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