Center for National and International Studies



“Ukraine will undoubtedly win, but the withdrawal of the Russians from the Caucasus does not seem realistic...”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties

Activist Aziz Mamiyev who was detained at the rally in Baku last week said that after learning that he was injured as a result of police brutality, the hospital refused to provide him with the test results. Mamiyev’s Facebook post reads: “At the hospital, they did not inform me about the result of the analysis. Imagine, first, they said that according to the results of the ultrasound, there is first-degree kidney enlargement as a result of trauma, but then they refused to provide a document that would formally testify it. The doctors recognized me, and they said that they could not give an opinion about the injuries caused by the police. Look at the country we live in. They take you away and beat you up, cripple you, and the doctors do not want to document it because they are afraid.”

Mehman Habibov, a resident of the Bilasuvar district who was also detained in the recent rally, was admitted to the Republican Clinical Hospital due to his injuries after being released. Although the doctors initially said that he suffered a fractured neck bone and a brain injury, as soon as they learned that he had attended the rally, they not only changed the documents but also expelled him from the hospital. Habibov, who has double citizenship (Russian and Azerbaijani), was sentenced to seven days in prison in Russia for writing “Slava Ukraine” on Facebook. After his release, Habibov returned to his homeland Azerbaijan. However, a few days after the rally in Baku, the district police went to his home in Bilasuvar and informed his parents that there was a search warrant for him as he had escaped mobilization in Russia. Habibov wrote on Facebook: “My family and I are subjected to psychological terror by Bilasuvar district police department. Today, the police officer called my father again and demanded that I come to the police station. As soon as my mother heard about the call, her condition worsened again, and after the intervention of the emergency services, her condition improved a little. My family is worried that they will either deport me to Russia or imprison me, but there is no reason for any of this. I am a citizen of Azerbaijan as well as Russia. I have never been involved in any criminal activity or violation of rules. I believe that the reason why I am subjected to this treatment is due to my political opinion.”

Tirbulent situation in Karabakh Region

Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan said that Armenia is ready to sign the document on extending the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh to 10-20 years. “We want Russian peacekeepers to continue their mission. I am ready to sign a document on extending the mandate of peacekeepers in Sochi for 10, 15, or 20 years. I suggest that the President of Russia take such an initiative. I can make this proposal, but the Russian side must support it,” Pashinyan said. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Valdai club discussion forum on October 27,  that Russia cannot dictate anything to Armenia. “If the Armenian people and leadership believe that it is necessary to choose some variant of the peace agreement, as far as I understand, this is Washington’s plan which reflects the recognition of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh, then let them chose.”

After Putin‘s Valdai speech, Karabakh Armenians gathered in Khankendi (Stepanakert) with the support of Russian troops and the participation of their family members to protest against becoming a part of Azerbaijan. They issued a statement stating that they will not be part of Azerbaijan.

Chairperson of ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu said that the mass demonstrations in Karabakh is organized by the Kremlin to convey the message that without Russia there is no solution to the conflict. Ibadoghlu wrote: “In fact, by inciting the rallies of the Armenians in Karabakh, Putin shows his strength to both Aliyev and Pashinyan and demonstrates to the West that Karabakh is under the direct control of Russia, not Azerbaijan or Armenia. Therefore, I think that at this moment, Ilham Aliyev should consider the documents prepared by the Kremlin (agreement on the text of the peace agreement with the indefinite postponement of the status of Karabakh, the extension of the stay of Russian troops in Karabakh and their deployment on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border, admission to membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, etc.) and he has to cancel his trip to Sochi meeting in order not to sign the future agreement.”

Activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev also shared a similar opinion adding that Azerbaijanis should protest against any document signed with Russia. Hajiyev wrote: “This rally held today in Khankendi is the next method of intimidation organized by Russia against Azerbaijan. At the meeting to be held in Sochi tomorrow, it would be treason for Azerbaijan to sign any document prepared with Russia’s plan, and ten times more people should protest on the streets in Baku. Anyone who says that Russia is mediating peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia is either a fool or a traitor. So far, Russia has only taken steps against Azerbaijan.”

Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli argued that Russia aims to stay in the Caucasus region for a longer term, even at the expanse of sabotaging the peace. Mukhtarli wrote: “For Pashinyan, it doesn’t matter how many years the Russians will stay in Karabakh. The argument that he agreed to the control of the borders by the Russians was a mistake. He will not agree to that. International observers will arrive at the borders. The Russian army in Armenia will also be withdrawn. The main threat is Ilham Aliyev. If Ilham signs the agreement, he will commit another betrayal. If Putin‘s wish comes true, we will be under constant pressure from Russia. Do not hope that if Ukraine wins, Russia will dissolve and leave the Caucasus. Ukraine will undoubtedly win, but the withdrawal of the Russians from the Caucasus does not seem realistic.”

Member of REAL Party Natig Jafarli argued that Armenia plans to give up control of Karabakh to the Russians. Jafarli wrote: “Pashinyan and other Armenian officials made numerous statements in Yerevan today, they also made contradictory sentences, but all of the statements have one thing in common: Russia should remain in Karabakh permanently, and Moscow should bear the burden of the Armenians living in Khankendi and its surroundings – in fact, Armenia will ignore the Karabakh issue and pass it on to Russia. Thereby Armenia will be able to save the approximately 300 mln dollars that would normally be allocated to Karabakh from its own budget. By doing so, Armenia wants to save its budget and bring Azerbaijan and Russia face-to-face confrontation. Russia seems to be happy with this plan too: It will only spend 300 million dollars for a strategically important region with a small population. It is not difficult to find this money, and the Russian billionaires of Armenian descent can easily be approached. The Kremlin will try to create the next  “republic”  (such as the “Karabakh People’s Republic” based on the republics it created in Ukraine) there with the Armenians’ own money (it is already working on it), and Russians will be there to protect this so-called institution. That’s why Pashinyan has now raised the issue of the Russians staying there for 15-20 years. It is a dangerous time for our country, and a real model of political unity is needed to pass this exam – Aliyev must understand this, put aside his arrogant approach to politics and the people, and new institutions must be created to establish an effective governance model. The way to do this is through the new Constitution and urgent cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Military Training and Education Centers should be established in the region.”

Rising tensions with Iran

The Board of Muslims of the Caucasus issued a statement protesting against Iran. In its statement, the Board condemned Iran’s anti-Azerbaijani policy. The statement reads: “If Iran, which threatens the corridor that will pass through Zangezur, which is the historical land of Azerbaijan, opens a consulate in Gafan at this difficult time and declares that they are ready to open the Consulate General of Armenia in Tabriz, the ancient city of Azerbaijan, this cannot be considered as a friendly and brotherly step. This is not aligned with Islamic virtue. It is a backstabbing of a Muslim brother.  This is against the Islamic and Shiite solidarity.”

Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli said that the timing of the statement is not coincidental, and it signs the future developments in the region. Gahramanli wrote: “It is no coincidence that this statement was made after Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s recent visit to Turkey. It seems that a military alliance of Israel, Turkey, and Azerbaijan against Iran is forming in the region. Some information about this is already circulating. It is no coincidence that Baku, which is usually silent in the face of Tehran’s disrespectful acts, made such a serious statement against Iran. It seems that the cooperation between Israel and Turkey in the field of security has encouraged Azerbaijan to react so harshly against Iran.”

November 1, 2022