Center for National and International Studies
“It is necessary to condemn politicians, not for their grammatical mistakes, but for the millions they stole from the state budget.”
Governance, economy, corruption.
Political activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev asked the FB community to pay attention to systematic corruption. His FB post reads: 100 ways to become a hero by returning part of the people’s money to themselves. 16th way: You restore a yard with sports equipment and a playground for the children for the people whose money you have stolen, and they thank you. For example, such a yard was built on the site of a building housing 4,200 inhabitants. In 30 years, if no more than only 10 manats are stolen from the state budget that these 4,200 people would receive per month, it would be 15 million manats. You buy a property in London for 14.5 million, spend 500 thousand manats to renovate the courtyard, and you become a hero!”
In the light of discussions around real opposition and ongoing corruption scandals, Tofig Yagublu offered an answer to his followers on FB. Yagublu’s post reads: Are you having trouble identifying who the real opposition is? This is very easy to do. Anyone who does not comment on Pandora Papers, who does not call the thief by his own name, or avoids the topic when he is forced to speak on the subject, then, he is not a real opposition. The real opposition must ask about the money that Ilham Aliyev stole from the people.”
Professor Altay Goyushov reacted to the news of former Minster of Health Ali Insanov registering his Party. Goyushov mentioned that Insanov could be considered as the face of the policy of extreme tribalism and extreme bribery, which has been raging in the country since 1969. Goyushov added that the Ministry of Justice recently refused to register an organization created by three young, educated lawyers who could bring real progress to the country.
Blogger Mehman Huseynov shared his new investigation, this time revealing the property worth 30 million manats that were illegally purchased in France by the family members of the late Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov. Huseynov sees the wide-scale corruption as the root cause of the current miserable state of sports. Blogger’s post continued as follows: Do you know why our sport is in such a bad situation? Because corruption has also ruined the field of sports. Do you know what the problem is? Formula 1 competitions are held in Baku every year. Every year because of the competitions roads are closed, affecting peoples on daily lives. Arif Rahimov, the son of the late Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov, organized those competitions. So, Arif Rahimov deceived a small part of the Azerbaijani youth and managed to involve them in these Formula 1 races. These young people are called “volunteers”. Rahimov deceived the young people and said that young people should work for free as slaves under the sun in hot weather and help promote Azerbaijan. In fact, what Arif Rahimov wanted to say was “you work for free to help me steal millions.” These young volunteers were deceived and joined the Formula 1 races. I do not blame them because they do not know the world. While these volunteers are working on the streets of Baku, Minister’s son Arif Rahimov is building 10 million worth yachts and villas of 30 million worth in France.” Huseynov concluded his post with rather sarcastic tones: So, if you want to go to France, you can go and be a guest there (in the villa of Rahimov).”
Mehman Huseynov also reacted to MP Javanshir Pashazadeh’s controversial FB post. In his FB post, MP made many grammatical mistakes which he later denied to be the author. The driver of the MP eventually was forced to resign for being accused of writing the FB post on behalf of the MP. Blogger Huseynov mentioned that it is necessary to condemn politicians not for their grammatical mistakes, but for the millions they stole from the state budget.
Human Rights and Liberties.
Ali Karimli reacted to the arrest APFP activist Mutallim Oruj calling it repression of real opposition. Karimli wrote: Where in the world does a person called by the police put drugs in his pocket to go to the police station? APFP activist Mutallim Oruj was arrested on drug charges. Oruj disappeared after being summoned by the Guba District Police Department. It was not possible to hear from him for 3-4 days. Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies have remained faithful to their tradition, and this arrest was carried out as a kidnapping. Only four days after Mutallim “disappeared”, the accusations against him became clear. He was sentenced to four months in prison. Mutallim had been living in Germany for several years. During his stay in Germany, he took an active part in protests dedicated to the protection of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. The government is taking revenge on Mutallim for that activity. Mutallim was deported from Germany in June this year. The regime took the chance to take revenge. He was shamelessly and demonstratively slandered. Then they wanted society to take seriously the fabricated accusations made by the repressive apparatus. As social tensions and discontent increase in the country, the regime is increasing the arrests. In such situations, the society should raise its voice and say that we also exist and protest against the repression of honest people, the real opposition!”
Azadliq newspaper reports that on October 27, the Baku Court of Appeal heard the appeal of Sardar Babayev, a theologian and member of the Assembly of Clergy of Azerbaijan, who was arrested a week ago. The complaint was filed against the decision of the Sabail District Court dated October 21, 2021. Relatives of the theologian told Meydan TV that he considered his arrest politically motivated. According to family members, Sardar Babayev considers himself a victim of the recent repression of tense relations between Iran and Azerbaijan: “He does not accept the accusations at all. He also refused to testify. ” Sardar Babayev, detained on October 19, is charged under Article 274 (treason) of the Criminal Code. He is accused of collaborating with Iranian special services and working against Azerbaijan. However, Sardar Babayev does not plead guilty. Sardar Babayev, a member of the Union of Clergy of Azerbaijan and editor-in-chief of maide.az, denies treason.
Afgan Mukhtarli informs that the arrest of deported Azerbaijanis continues. Malik Rzayev was arrested at his home tonight. He was reportedly detained at the Baku Main Police Department. Mutallim Orujov was arrested three days ago. About a thousand Azerbaijani citizens have been deported from Germany over the past 5-6 months. Those detained were political activists in Germany. The Azerbaijani authorities want to intimidate those in Europe by arresting the deportees. Other deportees who were not involved in political activities were released after signing statements prepared by the DTC and the Prosecutor General’s Office. It is likely that new arrests will be made on the basis of these sincere confessions. The German Embassy in Baku should pay attention to this issue. The German government is responsible for every activist deported and arrested. The German government is responsible for deporting political activists without proper investigation. While political activists were deported, Ilham Aliyev‘s outspoken propagandists obtained political refugee status.
Gubad Ibadoghlu informed his followers on FB that the next year the amount of the minimum wage in the country will be set at 205 manats. This year, the living wage was 196 manat, and last year it was 190 manat. According to Ibadoghly, the main question is if it is possible to live on 200 manats a month? Ibadoghly also mentioned that at the time of prices increase, the minimum wage would not be sufficient.
Habib Muntezir reports that the state fee for the registration of cars and telephones imported to Azerbaijan will be increased, and this, in turn, will increase the price of both cars and phones. The draft amendments to the law will soon be discussed in parliament and then approved by Ilham Aliyev.
Fuad Gahramanli drew the attention of the FB community to a war veteran Bayram Gurbanov. As a commander of an intelligence unit in the April battles and the Second Karabakh War, a special forces officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Gurbanov Bayram Vahid oglu, took part in combat operations under the most dangerous conditions. Gurbanov is now in Istanbul in need of urgent help. He has long been in Istanbul for the treatment of his son, who has an oncological disease. Although he applied, he did not receive a positive response from the Yashat Foundation, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and other organizations. Gahramanli said that “it is necessary to help Bayram…this heroic officer should not be left helpless in return for what he did for the Motherland and the state.”
Azadlig Newspaper reports that Vusala Gulbala gizi Mammadova, who lost her only child in the 44-day war, tried to commit suicide by taking various drugs. Her relatives said that she is currently in hospital in Ganja, and her condition is very serious. The mother of 21-year-old Sahib Azer oglu Hasanov, who was martyred in the battles for Kalbajar on October 17 last year, was unable to pay the rent. For a year, Mammadova repeatedly appealed to Niyazi Bayramov, Ganja‘s chief executive, but Bayramov refused to have a meeting regarding her case.
Post War situation. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is on an official visit to Azerbaijan. The plane of the Turkish president landed at Fizuli International Airport, the first airport built in the territory that came under the control of Azerbaijan after the war last year. The symbolic keys of Fuzuli International Airport were presented to President Erdogan by Azerbaijani counterpart Aliyev. The construction of airports in the Karabagh region under Azerbaijani control raised questions about whether the state budget should be used in addressing critical social issues. While pro-governmental media outlets and politicians applauded the opening of the airport, independent journalists and political activists expressed their concerns regarding the declining economy and mismanagements of state funds.
Journalist in exile Afgan Mukhtarli objected to those who argued that the construction of the airports was necessary due to their strategic locations. Mukhtarli wrote: The military justification of the construction of airports in Fizuli and the liberated regions is nothing but obsequious flattery towards the government. It was to justify theft, looting, and slander. It is a small country, with the farthest distance from one end to the other being only 500 km. There are enough airfields near Karabakh and the border with Armenia. Those, let alone being pilots, who have not even served in the army, talk like army generals. They don’t know the difference between an airport and an airfield, but they have an opinion. They talk about the protection of airports. The simple logic is that the airfield would not be built within the range of the enemy’s artillery shells and rocket launchers. There are no artillery defense systems. The profitability of airports is out of the question too. Baku airport is the busiest airport, yet AZAL receives subsidies from the state. What about the other airports in the country? In fact, none of them are operational except Baku and Ganja. Moreover, revitalizing the cities such as Fizuli and other liberated regions in the next ten years is questionable. Prior to the airport, land reform must be carried out in those areas, and destroyed houses must be restored. The population must be settled. Funds should be allocated for agriculture. The value of the collective farm property destroyed during the war must be paid. Don’t they know that? No doubt they know, they just serve their masters. No, if they were honest in their writings, we appreciated it.”
Former political prisoner Tofig Yagublu reacted to the extravagant expenditures on airports asking whether “that money should be allocated to the areas where it was most needed.” Yagublu added that “there are still no metro stations in Bayil, Gunashli, Yeni Gunashli, Garachukhur, Bakikhanov districts, Bina airport and other large settlements in Baku.”
Former member of parliament, Gultakin Hajibeyli, was among those who consider the construction of highly expensive airports as misusing of state funds. Hajibeyli wrote: Who needs these airports located close to each other ?! Wherever possible, they built tunnels and bridges in Baku, which are useless and do not solve the problem of traffic jams in the city.” Hajibeyli added that these megaprojects are implemented at the expense of billions that were simply wasted. According to Hajibeyli, government drains the state budget under the pretexts of patriotism. “The construction of the airport is a perfect opportunity to plunder hundreds of millions, and this is not simple corruption, but patriotic corruption!” concluded Hajibeyli.
Head of Popular Front Party Ali Karimli asked whether “wouldn’t a broad amnesty be good on the occasion of the liberation of Shusha on November 8 – Victory Day?” Karimli added that “there is a need for a comprehensive amnesty law, an amnesty for the release of both political prisoners and non-political prisoners, with the exception of those who are truly dangerous to society.” “It would partially reduce both the growing political and social tensions in the country,” concluded Karimli.
Head of National Council of Democratic Forces, professor Jamil Hasanli reacted to the recent debates around “eternal leader” which recently came to circulation as “an interesting proposal.” Hasanli’s FB post reads: Unbelievable methods of flattery and adulation are used. A number of trained individuals are proposing to declare Ilham Aliyev as president for life. Nariman Hamidov, the father of the martyred national hero Shukur Hamidov, made such a proposal in Gubadli. The most unfortunate thing is that among the supporters of Nariman’s proposal, who spoke “on behalf of the whole nation”, were professors of Baku State University and many “intellectuals” who were delighted with this proposal. Even the first vice-president of the country, for this proposal, suddenly said, “we are ready!” Government clerks acting on behalf of the press in the country described it as an “interesting proposal.” We should be surprised if the country’s poets have not yet written a poem or an epic about the cat that Ilham Aliyev put his fist on. Apparently, a number of our writers need to collect literary material and send them on a creative journey to observe the changes in the life of this “happy” cat after this event. At least because at many points, that cat behaved more honorably than many “intellectuals.”
October 29, 2021