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Center for National and International Studies




 The top issues these days were the report of the Freedom House on Azerbaijan, the revealed fact of agreement of Azerbaijani government to the building of the bridge on the occupied territories by Armenia forces with the government of Iran, the state aid package for affected by pandemic, arrest by the State Security Service forces of the head of executive of Imishli region and other regions’ executives and state expenditures on support of its system, repressions, the situation in prisons and erosion of values and Soviet legacies.

Public and political leaders intensely share, quote and discuss the rating of freedoms of Azerbaijan published by Freedom House. In particular, the common attention is attracted to the analysis and conclusions of the author, that the ongoing changes under disguise of reforms is the preparation of Ilham Aliyev to transfer power to his wife Mehriban Aliyeva. The fact that the country’s rating puts it in the group of most authoritarian states is also stressed by the FB users.

No less important is the agreement of Azerbaijan government to Iranian plans to build the bridge from Iran to the occupied territories by Armenia in Kelbajar and electric power station. The activists, experts, such as lawyer Alasgar Ahmadoglu,  and other FB users are discussing with indignance that the project helps the occupant to freely move on the occupied territories and better exploitation of the occupied territories and is a treason in relations to the IDPs who have lived in the tent camps for 27 years.

The issue of political prisoners, first of all Tofig Yagublu and his situation, and pressure on activists, is being shared and commented on. The pressure on Yagublu, as his daughter Nigar Hezi reports, continues in prison. He allows to make a phone call always the last – after all other prisoners,  and still the issue of new clothes was not resolved. Moreover, the prisoners who support him, are also under pressure. She also says, that all the shops in prison are open- including clothes, but the ones brought from home are not allowed. Ilkin Rustamzade also appeals to his followers to join in in regards rights and freedom for Tofig Yagublu. Seymur Hezi comments on the situation in prison: “ How can one sell the thing which costs 5 manats outside prison, for 15 manat in prison shops? This is because the the shops in the penitentiary system are in private property of the respective heads of prisons. Ilham Aliyev should take care of the prisoners, who contribute by their votes to his 100% victories in each elections.” Nurlan Libre reports, that the homes of arrested Ali Karimli’s bodyguards  Niyameddin Ahmadov and Ruslan Amirov were broken in and there have been searches made in their houses.

The state aid package for business and unemployed is a subject of discussion both by the activists and experts. Seymur Hezi of PFP announces the possibility of administrative complaint to the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, in case if they were unjustly denied an aid of 190 manat, by submitting  the form developed by the female legal defender Asima Nasirli. Gubad Ibadoglu refers to the interview of the minister of Labor and Social Protection to the official newspaper Azerbaijan who in addition to the known number of those who received the aid (600.000), but also disclosed the number who got rejection – 635 thousand 200. The total number of those who applied is 1 mln 235 thosand 200 -two times more than those who received 190 manat aid. Ibadoglu appraises the numbers given by the official, as by his opinion reflects more realistic amount of the unemployed in the country. He also mentions the incomplete information about recipients of this aid, unlike in case of the recipients of the targeted social aid, where besides the name and surname, they also give the region and address of recipient. Judging by the amount of trolls attacking him every time he makes posting related to social issues, he suggests that their financing is realized from the budget category – “paid social jobs” (80 mln manat in 2019, 159 mln manat in 2020) and is given to the Ministry of Labour and Social protection. “So far these trolls have been protecting this ministry even better, that the prime-minister, or the president.” At the same time, activists are commenting that the aid for the families of Karabagh war victims is only 21 manat  ( 11 dollars) more than the ordinary citizen.

The state aid problems are discussed against background of worsening economic situation and decline of the income from the oil sale. They quote State Oil fund statements that the income from the Azeri-Cirag-Guneshli decreased from 1 bln 5 mln US dollars in January-February  to 312 mln dollars in April 2020.  The quotation from the director of the Central Bank Elman Rustamov, that he “ regrets the losses which entrepreneurs and customers of the 4 banks which were closed have suffered” was widely shared and commented with irony and indignance. Natig Jafarli interprets it the following way: “ All the big business in the country belongs to the bureaucrats. In such a difficult period for the country, Rustmaov does not think they will impudent enough to claim their money back. They got these money anyway based on investments from the budget, or have stolen them. He also comments in the end:” Elman-muallim, deal with your big business yourself- this is your circle anyway, but do return money to the entrepreneurs whose business was below 50 thousand and SMEs!”

The FB users continue to discuss the issue of arrested executives, last time the head of the executive office of Imishli region. The experts, politicians, journalists and civil activists are trying to figure out the reasons behind it. They stress the dramatism of the arrests, question the necessity of execution of the orders by the State Security Service rather than by police, joke about why and who they were appointed there by in the first place. Gubad Ibadoglu suggests, that since they have arrested 5 heads of executive power in the regions in 5 months, with this speed the government can create an impression of fighting with corruption for 7 years ( there are more than 80 regions in Azerbaijan). There are numerous comments  on the amount of money- as the photos with expropriated packs of banknotes was shared widely- and there was a consensus that there was around 4-5 mln dollars. The degree of corruption at the level of the regional head of executive stimulated comments and discussions.

The issue of conscious and values is also the subject of comments and discussions.  The journalist Ruzgar Movsum reminds the tragic life story of the famous poet an intellectual of Azerbaijan – the victim of the Stalin purges – Ahmad Javad, commenting that many of the popular writers and poets conformed and supported the regime in its campaign of slander. He was killed in NKVD in Baku. The flatter by the citizens based on the letters on the website of the president Aliyev were the subject of sarcasm of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, who compared it to the North Korea. Ordukhan Babirov in turn comments that by eliminating the system of education in last 3 decades the regime of Aliyev-Pashayev made people and the nation  ignorant, but what happened to humanism, he asks, has it also managed to eliminate it too?

May 8, 2020