Center for National and International Studies
“Russia is the number one threat to our national security. It’s time to say it openly. Because this may be the last chance.”
(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties
Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli reports that political activist Samir Ashurov was deported from Germany. According to Mukhtarli, there is a real threat to Samir’s life in Azerbaijan, and the German government, the Bavarian government, and local courts have comprehensive information about this. Many Azerbaijani political activists have been deported from Bavaria recently. Malik Rzayev, Mutalim Orujov, Punhan Karimli, and Jafar Mirzayev, who were arrested in Azerbaijan upon their return, were all deported from Bavaria. Mukhtarli argued that the reason behind massive deportations lies in the Bavarian government’s close relationship with dictators around the world. Mukhtarli added that it is exactly due to this reason that political activists living in Bavaria are deported and then got arrested in Baku. Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu also believes that it is very irresponsible of the German government to deport political activists while being well aware that they will be arrested. “This is deliberately sending innocent people to Aliyev’s prison,” said Yagublu.
War veteran Sadi Jafarov told Meydan TV that despite his continuous appeals, government agencies have failed to help him in providing the necessary documents to get his disability status confirmed. Jafarov says he was wounded in the Second Karabakh War in the direction of Gubadli. Jafarov added that disability status had not been confirmed. The war veteran who came to Baku to get his documents in order had to spend the night on the streets for days. Saying that he has lost his ability to work, Sadi is waiting for help from government agencies.
Journalist Farid Ismayilov (Farid Imran), who has been in the military for nine months, shared disturbing facts about the conditions in the army and corruption in military units. Ismayilov wrote: “The military unit I serve in could not solve the problem of a generator, drinking water, and food for months. The leadership of the military unit lives in comfortable seats, and the soldier lives under miserable conditions. While the heads of military units are involved in bribery and corruption, the soldiers who did not pay the bribe have to serve on the front line against the enemy, deprived of drinking water and food. Three days ago, the potato thief was caught by the military police, but the head of the military unit did not send one kg of potatoes to the soldiers for several days. Imagine that a sergeant buys food for his soldiers from his salary to prevent illness. The leadership of the military unit comes and shamelessly lectures the soldiers but does not bother to send firewood. Soldiers and sergeants have to collect firewood in the mined area.” Ismayilov’s post brought back the Ministry of Defence into the discussions on corruption. The ministry has repeatedly been the target of criticism in the past for previous abuses of power in the army. Chairman of ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu urged the relevant authorities to intervene in this issue in order to eliminate it in a timely manner. Ibadoghlu added that a country like Azerbaijan, which could face war at any moment, should take such complaints seriously to improve the standards of the army.
Governance and corruption.
In Baku, Reception Center for Citizens under the Presidential Administration was opened. Ilham Aliyev attended the opening of the Center. However, activists and independent journalists criticized the opening of a separate center for accepting complaints arguing that it is officially admitting that the laws are not respected, and for the citizens, in order to be considered, they have to appeal directly to the president’s office. Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli said that this Center is for those who are dissatisfied with the law enforcement and executive authorities in the country to complain to this body as a last resort. According to Gahramanli, the Center will not protect the rights of citizens, and if the laws are not effective and dysfunctional, increasing the number of departments and agencies will not change anything. Gahramanli also argued that “the opening of this body is also an acknowledgment that citizens are unable to protect their rights in government agencies or that government agencies do not perform their statutory functions.”
Chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli criticized Aliyev for not granting permit to hold a rally in support of Ukraine in Baku. Karimli argued that by doing so, Aliyev demonstrates his loyalty to his alliance with Putin. Karimli wrote: The opposition and a society ready to support Ukraine. However, the Azerbaijani government has chosen to be close to the Russian leadership, which is condemned by most countries. It was once again proved that there is a serious gap between the Azerbaijani government and the majority of the people. The government doesn’t want what the people want, the people do not want what the government wants.”
Chairperson of ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu shared his analysis of the budget allocated for the construction works in Karabakh. Ibadoghlu’s post reads: As a result of the research, it is known that the amount of funds allocated for construction and renovation work in 2021 in the liberated regions and villages amounted to 1 billion 954 million 551 thousand manats. Half of this budget was spent on construction and installation work in Fizuli and Shusha alone, and the other half on the restoration and reconstruction of 6 other districts. Although most of the money spent in the Fizuli region is connected with Fizuli International Airport, Zafar Road, it is still unknown how much money is spent on these two mega-projects. Due to this, a vast amount of money will be taken from this year’s budget for the construction of airports in Zangilan and Lachin. Despite spending so much money, one IDP has not yet returned to his homeland. In fact, in this situation, it is not worth waiting for IDPs’ return in the near future. Because, for the purpose of construction, massive amounts will be allocated from the budget every year, and that money will become a cover for corruption with non-transparent and unaccountable spending.”
Is Azerbaijan Putin’s next target?
According to a new bill submitted to the Russian State Duma, all those who speak Russian in the world will be considered “compatriots.” The bill is considered, in essence, an imperialist law that aims to create a political, ideological, and legal basis for Russia’s new intervention in neighboring nations. In Azerbaijan, where there are millions who speak Russian, the new bill stirred up anti-Russian sentiments. Meanwhile, Russian MP Mikhail Delyagin called Azerbaijan a “proxy state” and called for the use of tactical nuclear weapons to destroy Azerbaijan’s oil industry. Press secretary for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov said that the MP’s views do not correspond to the position of official Moscow.
Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli argued that if Russia withdraws from Ukraine, it will need a false victory, and this “victory” could be in Karabakh. Mukhtarli added that “hopefully, we won’t witness yet another time when innocents Azerbaijani blood will be shed for Russia.”
Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli argued that Putin’s next target most likely is going to be the Caucasus. Gahramanli wrote: The military intervention in Azerbaijan may also be interesting to Putin because it could replace the name of the aggressor he gained in Ukraine with the image of a defender who protects the oppressed Armenians. Moreover, in the war that Russia may start in Karabakh, unlike in Ukraine, it is impossible for NATO to take a united position. Only the fact that Turkey and France would be on opposite sides of the issue and that other members consider the conflict in the South Caucasus, far from Europe’s borders, can create an entirely different situation than in Ukraine. This could allow Putin to re-gain the maneuverability he lost in Europe by creating internal conflicts within NATO. Given all this, it seems realistic that Russia will start a new war, which could start in Karabakh and go even further to the occupation of Baku. Therefore, the Azerbaijani government must immediately begin military consultations with Turkey, take additional measures to increase the country’s defense capabilities, conduct active diplomacy with the West, and take action to establish national solidarity within the country.”
Speaking at the anniversary meeting of the CIS Parliamentary Assembly, speaker of Azerbaijani parliament Sahiba Gafarova, who chaired the meeting, called the Republic of Azerbaijan the Azerbaijan SSR. The apparent mistake in Gafraova’s speech caused a backlash among social media users. Director of Baku Research Institute professor Altay Goyushov reacted to Gafarova’s speech by saying it was not unexpected from a former Soviet bureaucrat. Goyushov wrote: It is not a secret that all of them are former Soviet elites with KGB backgrounds. But the fact that 30 years later, the Soviet rhetoric did not go away is an indication that the person is a concrete imbecile. She confuses the name of the country where she is (allegedly) the speaker of the parliament. On the other hand, if they were not such idiots, Aliyev would not appoint them to positions in the first place.”
Member of NCDF Gultekin Hajiyebli argued that under current Russian threats, the Azerbaijani government should seek Turkey’s help. Hajiyebli wrote: “I think that the Azerbaijani government should urgently appeal to Turkey to hold a joint meeting of the Security Councils of the two countries, discuss all possible foreign threats to our country and take appropriate decisions. The most important of these decisions is the deployment of Turkish military bases in Azerbaijan and the urgent signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union. At the same time, air defense systems must be purchased from Israel as soon as possible, and the country’s airspace must be secured. The state has enough resources to do so.”
Gubad Ibadoghlu warned that Azerbaijan’s oil and gas exports might be threatened. Ibadoghlu wrote: As a result of Russia’s provocation, an “accident” may occur in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil and Baku-Tbilisi Erzurum (BTE) gas pipelines. Let’s not forget that such an “accident” was recorded in August 2008 during Russia’s aggression against Georgia. I would also like to note that the same fate will befall Azerbaijan. I think that the current processes in Karabakh should be assessed in this regard. Therefore, security measures should be strengthened in all areas where the BTC and BTE pipelines pass (Azerbaijan-Georgia and Turkey).”
Journalist Seymur Hezi commented on South Ossetia’s legal steps to join Russia, arguing that the same processes could also happen in Karabakh in the near future. Hezi wrote: Ilham Aliyev‘s ally (Putin) also wants to seize the occupied Georgian territories officially. Yesterday South Ossetia was recognized as an independent state, today, it is going to be annexed to Russia’s collective farm. Is this a threat to Khankendi? Yes. What to do then? Should we be more afraid, or should we be with those who are against the enemy? Of course, our choice must be the second. He who cannot call this nation’s friend a friend and its enemy an enemy cannot lead it. Russia is the number one threat to our national security. It’s time to say it openly. Because this may be the last chance.”
April 1, 2022