Center for National and International Studies



The FB users share and comment on the state aid to the population, failure of the electronic system of registration, destruction of the house during the quarantine with violation of the rights of dwellers, arrests of the activists and journalists,

the appeal by Ilkin Rustamzade, publication in Business Insider, increasing social- economic crisis and absence of vision and capacity of the government to respond to it.

The director of the National Strategic Think Tank Isa Gambar in his interview to Turan information agency said, that the measures by the government should be based on trust of the society. He commented that lack of compliance of the population to the rules of quarantine is also the problem of absence of trust to the government. He considers that the latter should create a Public Committee in fight with coronavirus, which would consist of people with high reputation in the society, experts, popular leaders of various political forces, so the decisions made on the basis of this Committee activities would be perceived with trust in the society. By his opinion, people who are in the places where conditions create threat to the health, such as prisons- political prisoners, those accused for non-serious crimes, or whose term has almost expired should be all released. Secondly, the rules of quarantine should be applied to all citizens with no exceptions. Thirdly, for those social groups, who are in need, there should be an urgent serious aid rendered, so they could stay home. Otherwise, the government will dangerously alienate itself from people and that’s why it should take urgent and correct steps, he concluded.

Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR reports about continued persecution of the members of his movement. This time  the member of the board of Binagadi branch of ADR Vafadar Aliyev was arrested for 30days. Based on the article 535 of the Administrative Criminal Code- resistance to police. He demands freedom to all other “coronavirus prisoners” Tofig Yagublu, Faig Amirli, Shakir Mammadli, Vafadar Aliyev and others.

He also comments on the Aliyev’s regime amount o and nature of aid to population during coronavirus pandemics. He quotes Azerbaijani saying that one should not test a human being with bread and says that people will never forget the regime how they treat them. He contrasts billions of investment and financing which Aliyev spent on “ stone, cement, bridge, roads” to 70 mln for the millions who lost their jobs in these difficult days. He lists these investments:

-Bridges of the roundabout near Ramstore supermarket – 95 mln 590 thous 100 manat

– the road near Azizbayov roundabout 128 mln 896 thous 400manat

– 14 km long part of the road near Azibzayov roundabout towards the airport  -298 492 400

-the road Baku-Guba- Russian border 545 287 800

– National Olympic Stadium 640 mln manat

– Construction of the State Oil Fund building  110  mln euro

-Baku Chrystall Hall – 280 bln dollars

-SOCAR’s new building 350 mln dollars

– Construction of the Heydar Aliyev Culture Center 251,1 mln manat

-3 km road leading to the Square of Banner 108 mln manat

-“historical” Square of Banner complex- 26 mln manat

He stresses that this is just a part of all the money which were stolen from the budget , and that he did not mention 70 bln manat which were spent on the numerous parks, statues and museums of Heydar Aliyev under the name of social-economic development of the regions, because he thinks may be they will remember that there are hundreds of thousands of families, who did not earn anything for the subsistence and have been waiting for the aid for a week already.

Also, this 70 mln 200 thousand cannot be distributed because one-line system hardly functions and does not accept e-appeals. He warns that the government should start acting before it is too late and quotes another saying that the hungry person will cope even with the armed rival.

Yadigar Sadyhgli reports that yesterday it was a turn of Lenkoran region’s unemployed to register on the state aid site and it did not work at all. Today it works, but it is impossible to register anyone from Lenkoran.

Ramis Yunus, an activist in exile, writes that by releasing the criminal and bandit Akif Covdarov, which in any civilized country would get a life sentence, and arresting the pride of Azerbaijani people Tofig Yagublu only for the criticism of the authorities, Ilham and Mehriban Aliyevs  sent the society a message and revealed their system of values. But every patience has its limits so now its turn of the people to react.

Seymur Hezi writes about arrest of Ali Karimli’s assistant Faig Amirli. “ Lets assume you arrested thousands of activists- will hungry people stop asking for food? He calls it a wrong tactics, as it will only increase number of protesters.

He also rep0rts that based on the letters from people, in Nizami region  JEKs register unemployed, but only one per family. Is it everywhere, he asks. How come the aid per person turned into an aid per family??”

Arif Mammadov, a diplomat in exile, comments on recent arrests “The Azerbaijani regime should once and forever make an amendment to the Criminal Code, that everyone who is close to Ali Karimli is considered a threat and can be arrested any time. The arrests made under the excuse of coronavirus should be stopped!” He also cheers up Ilkin Rustamzade and wishes him to stay  strong and confident as he has always been.

Elshan Hasanoglu reports that he stood in line to get into the bank for almost two hours, but then left so would not be caught by police for violation of the quarantine rules. So did dozens of others. There is a note on the doors of the International Bank indicating the website for e0banking but it is not functioning.” Have not you done enough injustices to this people, that you make them go through these difficulties, and in addition threaten to arrest people, who protest them. People are afraid of the government decisions much more than of virus! ( and probably it will be ever worse with the extension of the quarantine regime)

Gunel Movlud, a writer in exile, speculates on the issue of activism and sexual freedoms. “You can be a Mandela, spend 30 years  in prison for people, you can be Spartacus and lead the rebellion, does not matter, but you can be discredited in one hour by the intimate videos of yourself or your family member. In the society where sexual relations are under taboo, where normal sexual relations are not accepted,  a sexual life will always be means of political pressure, blackmail. That’s exactly what we meant when we have been writing about it for years, rather than because of “ oh, if this people look normally to sex they will make love more often” consideration”

The lawyer  Alasgar Ahamdoglu comments on the arrest of Faig Amirli of the PFP, writing that this act of the authorities cause hatred and disgust. He calls his arrest in front of his house and before the eyes of his wife by 3 people, putting him by force in the black jeep and then taking him to the court to be accused on Administrative Offences Code 211 article- a political and legal scandal. Since when, -he asks – the people in civilian clothes and black jeeps have been authorized to enforce the rules of quarantine ? He stresses that this is not an isolated case, as yesterday the member of the ADR movement Vafadar Aliyev was also detained in a similar manner in front of his house and taken to the 7 police department of the Binagadi region. The events which happened to Ilkin Rustamzade and his family with involvement of the official agencies proves that the policies that destroy national unity and equality is much worse threat than that caused by the virus.

The expert and civil activist  Avaz Hasanov comments. “I understand that respected MP Fazail muellim does not have a problem with subsistence , that’s why he supports the strictest rules of quarantine and staying home. He better promotes the immediate aid for the citizens instead”.

Bakhtiyar Hajiyev reports, that YAP ( ruling party representative) brought some products to the friend’s grandmother, but put the condition to praise certain personalities before the camera. She refused, so they left taking their products back.

He also comments on Erkin Gadirli’s  REAL MP refusal to raise the issue of police and moral harassment of NIDA leader Ilkin Rustamzade. Gadirli justified the refusal by the fact, that he blocked Rustamzade  on FB before.

Rabiyya Mammadova reports on her timeline the arrest of the bodyguard of Ali Karimli Ruslan Amirov just after yesterday’s arrest of his assistant. He is accused of “ resistance to police”, “ insults”, “ violation of the quarantine rules”.

Ordukhan Babirov, an activist in exile, comments on the sportsmen serving the authorities. He also compares the aid in the other states to that in Azerbaijan. He says that in the country with such a high need of aid, the government goves 190 manats only to those who are registered or simply find an excuse to limit it, or not to give at all. He shares the appeal of the Karabagh war veteran, who urges people not to beg for aid, but to demand and put the deadlines, not to “be afraid of anything, because of power of internet, and the fact that there are millions of us. The first thing to do is to demand the local authorities and in a very acute form, because this is your right and duty as a citizen. The more you keep silence, the more traitors become impudent. Just raise your voice and you will the result soon. Do not be afraid of demanding your rights, hey, Azerbaijani!”

Altay Geyushov contrasts the aid in the foreign states to that in Azerbaijan. He comments that while the doctors in Germany had an additional 500 euros because of cancellation of taxes, the Azerbaijani doctors were deducted 200 manats from their salaries to give to the Foundation of Support for the Fight with Coronavirus. ( referring to BBC report).

Ai Karimli makes a statement in regards the arrest for a month of his assistant former political prisoner Faig Amirli, under the excuse of violating the rules of quarantine regime. He also stresses that the policemen took away his telephone. He writes that the epidemics is used to silence the government critics. How can one explain the underage children what kind of revenge the authorities are taking of their father in the times, when even schools are closed and everyone is told to stay home. The next day he made a statement regarding the arrest of his bodyguard Ruslan Amirov, which was made in a similar manner – highjacked by the police in civilian clothes. He was also given 30 days of detention.

Nigar Hezi, an activist and the daughter of political prisoner Tofig Yagublu, writes that the international campaign on protesting against the arrest of her father is widening. Amnesty International starts new campaign this week with letters coming to Ilham Aliyev with demand to release Tofig Yagublu. The fact, that the person who falsely testified against Yagublu Elkhan Jabrailov is an employee of the company “ The Silk Way” which belongs to the president’s  family will prove their direct involvement. If the authorities do not release Tofig Yagublu, the next campaign will be directed to the US government and the Defense Department and will demand to stop cooperation with this company. Ilham Aliyev has a chance until the next week- it either releases Tofig Yagublu, or will get under sanctions.

Ilkin Rustamzade due to the significant number of fake accounts and attack by trolls and absence of any material resources to confront them appeals to the FB users to spread an information about himself and his activities, as he considers that the authorities simply take an advantage of the fact that some people might not be aware of his activities. “ I, Ilkin Rustamzade,  am an organizer of the two rallies against the non-combatant deaths in the army and rallies in support of the events in Ismayilli and Bina. And because of that in 2013 I was arrested and spent 6 years in prison. After release from the prison I have been publicizing and advocating in defense of numerous cases of violation of people’s rights- starting from the tortures in prisons up to the injustice to  citizens in the most distant regions. I was a member of the Movement ( Herekat) Coalition  during last parliamentary elections and was actively involved in the e-day and after that activities. Some time ago I have started a petition with the demand to cancel communal and credit payments, giving the social aid to population at the time of pandemics. Because of this petition, they started to spread the fake photos of me and my wife in the internet. The following acts  of arranged insults violated any principles of humanity  and exceeded any limits of animosity. But, unfortunately, thousands people, who did not know me, joined this campaign on insulting myself. They do not understand that I was the subject of this moral terror exactly because of the protection of the violated rights of millions, including themselves.

My dear compatriots, I hope that you will eventually understand of what is going on and that they are using you as a tool. “

He also tells the story, which happened to him while he was in prison, illuminating methods of this regime. He remembered that while in punishment cell in Kurdakhani prison one of the prison staff told him, that there were 50 thousand views of the Jamil Hasanli speech, while 4 mln of Bozbash Pictures. Since then I did not have illusions regarding the psychology of crowd. He said that while in prison, in September 2016 they spread rumors that I testified against Ali Insanov, and in spite of the fact, that for my release it was sufficient for me to write a remorse letter, and that the source of these rumors was the most discredited person, prisoners believed it. Even those, whom I saved from being sent to the “tuberculosis zone” stopped saying hello to me. Can you imagine 1,400 people, the walls and myself. Everyone was looking at me as an enemy and the jerk and were turning their heads away from me. And in such situation the representatives of the Special Services came for me to negotiate a release deal. I rejected it although it was even more dignified compared to those offered to the other political prisoners. I am writing it to remind it to the people, who commented that I lost psychologically. And in relations to why Erkin did not help Ilkin- my answer is I am not weak enough yet, to ask Erkin to help me”

Natig Jafarli of REAL comments on the economic consequences of virus. He writes, that , based on the numerous letters, the agricultural sector is in a desperate situation. Laast year some positive laws were adopted regarding subsidies. That those who started the fruit farming should be given 800 manats. However in the times of pandemics, only 25 % is given in monetary form, while the rest 75% is given in the form of fertilizers, as a result they have to sell them and cheaper, as the market prices is lower than the one the state gives them by.  The other desperate issue is related to the closed border with Russia, as due to the absence of reforms in export sphere the farmers are very much dependent on Russia’s market and because they rely for the whole year to the income from the Russian markets what’s going to happen in the nearest future both to their families and to the farms? And this is not true, that they will just fill the local markets, because there will not be any income for them from the local markets. This means that the next year everything will be very expensive. The inflow of currency in the country has sharply decreased – as the oil became cheaper than mineral water Badamli, and the major sector of the non-oil economy was the agricultural one. While this year there will not be any income from agriculture- has anyone calculated the macro consequences of this for our economy? Also, has somebody calculated the cost of keeping the artificial value of manat and its damage to the agricultural sector?

Gubad Ibadoglu  quotes statistics of the FSU states which shows that the average salary of the hired personnel is the lowest in the South Caucasus, as well as compared to Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukriane and Moldova, in spite of the increase of the salaries last September from 20% to 40% in some state agencies. Similarly Azerbaijan is among the states with the weakest protection from pandemics of business and population in the world. He posts the table with the ratio of aid per person in various states. He also urges the banks to give people the credit breaks. Some of them ended up the 2019 year with negative net profits. Among them AG Bank ASC – 2.1 mln Muganbank – 8.3 mln, Amrah bank 11.2 mln, Atabank – no data, AccessBank QSC -89,7 mln. Manat net profit losses.  The top 10 highest net profits banks are: International Bank 302.3, Kapital Bank 134.7, UNIbank KB 78.6,PasaBank 65.0 Xalq Bank 33.4 Bank of Baku 24.6 Bank Respublika 20.4,Expressbank 19,1, Rabitabank 11,1 Premium bank 8,9.He suggests those with positive net profits based on the principle of corporative responsibility should give the customers credit breaks.

Altay Geyushov shares analysis of an economist Rovshan Agayev, who writes. Azerbaijan is living hard days after the 5 years of decline has replaced 10 years of intensive economic growth.  On the one hand coronavirus had led to collapse of a few sectors of economy which employed tens of thousands of people such as tourism, service and trade, on the other hand- the country faced serious shortage of currency, as the price of oil which filled at least 60% of the state budget dropped 2, 5 times. In these conditions, what is the population’s immunity, who just suffered the shock of the depreciation of the currency, against the new shock?”

Natig Jafarli writes about the way the quarantine was launched in Turkey: “ Yesterday the prohibition of going out of the homes for 48 hours in 30 biggest cities of Turkey was announced just 2 hours before it entered into force. “ he describes that crowds of people- without masks, with no social distance -went out for an urgent shopping , finishing their errands, jobs. He considers that this pandemics revealed an interesting world trend, that in every state the liberal leaders in opposition were calling the government to undertake more strict measures..

Gozel Bayramli of the PFP shares the status by Fuad Gahramanli: “ The regime started vaccination against the Popular Front pandemics in the country. For the last few days 3 PFP activists were arrested without any justification. While the number of infected by coronavirus is around 500 with 70-80 daily increase, the nuber of infected by the PFP thinking is hundreds thousands and the daily increase is in thousands- only the number of views of the last speech by Ali Karimli is around 400 thousands. Sitting at home only accelerates people’s getting infected with this mindset virus. On the other hand, the decline of the oil price has weakened the immunity of population, as a result the number of infected by the PFP virus in millions is expected…That’s why they quit coronavirus infection and started to fight the virus of the Popular Front members.

Ordukhan Babirov expresses his indignance with the policies of giving aid in exchange for praising the officials. He writes, that they try to break people for the price of one piece of bread, or 1 kg of rice and that this is the nature of Ilham Aliyev.

Rabiyya Mammadova reports that Nariman Abdulla has been arrested for 10 days for the violation of the regime of pandemics.

The FB usesr are actively sharing and indignantly commenting on the statement by the People’s Artist the prominent drama actress Afag Bashir-gizi about “people, who leave their regions, move to Baku and give a birth to handicapped children” and who deserved their fate. Rabiyya Mammadova, Javid Gara, Vidadi Mammadov, Hezi Bey and others made their critical comments regarding the moral transformation of people or arts, sports etc. under current regime.

Bakhtiyar Hajiyev comments on the announcement of the Ministry for Labor and Social Protection, that every person who worked with contract, will receive their full salaries, as the state allocated 215 mln manats so if their spouse is unemployed he/ she is not eligible for 190 manats.  1). Majority of people work without official contracts. And there are very few private companies where they sign contracts, including Pasha or Gilan Holding, where there employees with even 5,000-15,000 manats salary. How come that if the wife and husband work in Pasha Holding and both will get their full salaries, but in case if they are both unemployed only one of two is entitled to 190 manat?  If this government collapses, this is not because of stolen billions, or meaningless millions spent on Formula 1 races, but rather because of the logic, that someone seems to say correct things, but better we do not follow this advise because he/she is an opposition member. The wife-husband is totally meaningless issue – it requires only 30-40 mln additional manats, but if they take away this requirement their aid and policy will look more sustainable and reasonable.”

The media lawyer Alasgar Ahmadoglu reports that lately in connection with the changes in legislation on media during the pandemics he has been receiving  many letters from journalists.  He stresses that while the problem of pandemics is legitimate there is no legal basis for limitations on the work of media. There is nothing about special regime of work of media in the times of pandemics, so any demand that they need a special permission is against the law. He quotes various articles of the media law and proves that this is illegal. The first article of the Law on Media is called the freedom of media and it states that the freedom of media cannot be limited except for cases mentioned in the law. The article 7 states unacceptability of censorship. A special regime is the military, state of emergency, or in the area of the operation of the fight with religious extremism. That’s why any attempt to fine the journalist for execution of his/her professional activities is illegal.

The journalist Nurlan Libre reports about arrest for 25 days of the journalist of Kanal24 Vazirov Ibrahim based on the article 535.1. Also, about hijacking of the member of the Muslim Unity Movement member Hikmet Agayev.

Ali Karimli of PFP continues to report about coverage of the arrest of Tofig Yagublu by the foreign media. This time – by the article in Business Insider. Ali Karimli while praising the attention to the illegal arrests of the activists in Azerbaijan, asserts that the main efforts on release of the political prisoners and should be made from within the country  and he calls people to join this campaign.

Gubad Ibadoglu  of ADR suggests  to create the Public Monitoring Council of the SOFAZ, or include in the Supervisory Board of SOFAZ members of public and civil society. He notes, that with the purpose of increasing transparency and effective spending of the capital of the Fund of Support to Fight with Coronavirus the Public Monitoring Council was created. By his opinion, while independence of some members of this Council causes doubts in general this is a positive step.But this also leads to the other questions- How come the fund with capital 111 mln manats has the public monitoring body, while SOFAZ with 43,3 bln – does not? Why? Who does this capital of SOFAZ belong to?May be to theprivate sector or personalities? Of course, not – this is the state capital which is considered the public finances. He reminds that the members of the Supervisory board of SOFAZ are – the prime-minister, two assistants of the president, and the Ministers of Finances and Economy. There is also the unoccupied seat of the vice-speaker of the parliament who is not appointed yet ( apparently, they forgot) And all this in spite of the Regulations signed by the president Aliyev about the SOFAZ that in order to monitor its activities the Monitoring Council is created, which consists of the respective state organs and public representatives. This is a total shame, as they even are not implementing their own decisions- concludes Gubad Ibadoglu.

He also reminded the last year census survey, which the government allocated 23,2 mln manats to complete in  three years. The president signed a decree on the census on the 7 September 2019. He also considers that they have laundered 9 manats 20 gap. per each family. However, his and other experts monitoring proved that not all the population was registered. Meanwhile, the census could help to answer some current questions, which many ask in connection witrh the virus.

  1. What is the population of the country? I am sure two people the head of the State Statistics Committee Tahir Budagli and the chair of the Central Election Commission Mazahir Panahov would give different answers to this question.
  2. Which percentage of population lives in poverty? What is their income and expenditures? Obviously, two people- the State Statistics Committee Tahir Budagli and the Minister of Labor and Social protection Sahil Babayev would give different answers to these questions.
  3. What is the number of the unemployed in this country? None of the bureaucrats will give you the correct answer to this question.

And you know why? Because the money for the census survey were stolen, and those conducting the survey did not collect answers about the conditions of each family in the country. If they had done it, then the Minister of High Technologies simply pushed the button and would know how many people are unemployed, living in poverty and where they live. And it will make allocation of aid to the people much quicker and easier. So this shows how corruption undermines effectiveness of the state institutions, in spite of all money and riches the state has.

Seymur Hezi comments on the developments in the country:

..The prices have increased enormously in the supermarkets. But people do not have money anyway. Instead of arresting opposition, the government better stops the artificial rise of products prices

.. The cry of hungry children, the heart ache of the fathers, the eyes of the mothers full of tears, who exchanged  their dreams for bread- will be like a cholera on the back of this government..

….If Nijat Abdullazade has sent an SMS to 8103, why would he resist police? I just ask it rhetorically, as our blame is known anyway….

 Ilkin Rustamzade touches upon a few events going on in the country.

He posts the video of the businessman in the car, who is surrounded by the crowd of poor men, as he distributes some private aid for them. The video creates a very hard impression of the desperate men, fathers of the families, who are on the verge of starvation. The comments under the video are the following: “ This reminds the scene from some movies about concentration camps during German occupation” “ Nobody will escape the punishment”, “ I am simply ashamed”, “ Look when there is a rally, they do not come, but for 10 manats they all come and beg” “ The country is occupied by the organized crime group!” “ What a coward became our nation” “ Poor people!! There should be a strong state behind them, not some person!When you see these faces, you think- let nothing change.. This world deserves to collapse” “ And this is a country with 5 percent of unemployed”

He also comments on the destruction of the house in the city center during the peak of pandemics and quarantine accompanied by kicking families out of their flats. Khadija Ismayil also reports this case: “ In the middle of the quarantine, they said to the owners of the apartments, “we will destroy the building tomorrow regardless of whether you moved or not “ They put pressure on the dweller who expressed dissatisfaction with the size of compensation. The new MP, who took the place of truly elected Bakhtiyar Hajiyev did not react to the complaint of the dweller. In case if they destroy the house tomorrow, I wonder how the dwellers are expected to fulfill the instruction “ stay home”.

Natig Jafarli explains why the population in Europe, US or Japan, enjoys adequate and quick state support in the times of pandemics and why Azerbaijani does not.  1) the main and fundamental difference is that they have free and fair elections, and the authorities are responsible before its electorate2) There are complex economic and financial mechanisms in these countries 3) very close to  reality statistical data base 4) Multi level system of decision making- central, local, civil society etc.5) professional bureaucracy.

April 14, 2020

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