Center for National and International Studies
The resumption of fighting on the state border, the rally in support of the army, the detentions at the rally, official policies in regards pandemic continue to be in the center of attention. The other issues included public rallies in Khabarovsk, Russia, the exchange of war rhetoric between diplomats of Armenia and Azerbaijan and position of Serbia.
The FB users report detentions at the rally devoted to the support to the army 14-15, Gunel Movlud stresses that detention for three days of the animal rights defender Elvin Jabizade is totally unclear and absurd. Activists and journalists report the worsening of health of the detained in the 4th police office Firudin Salimov resulted in calling the ambulance. Salimov was kept in the small cell with 6 people for 48 hours with neither food nor conditions to sleep. Gozel Bayramli of PFP reported that they were not allowed to meet their legal defenders, some of them were given tortures to get confessions against Ali Karimli.The MIA did not issue any statement and continued to keep them illegally in the cells.
The last reports were that journalists Elvin Jabizade and Anar Abdulla and photographer Firudin Salimov were release after 3 days. The detained reported physical beating (cuffs) by the police. They also inform about the arrest for almost 3 months the PFP activist and the war veteran Asif Yusifli ( who was only recently released after few years in prison, in spite of him being handicapped) Similar sentence was read to Seymur Ahmadzade. The court hearing on both cases was chaired by the judges Babek Panahov and Ramin Khalilov. The same day another 3 members of PFP were reported arrested– Ramil Nagiyev, Ismayil Hasanov, Vugar Abilov, and the next day another 5 of them Ayaz Maharramli, Jayhun Novruzov, Baba Suleiman, Suleyman Maharramli. FB also reports the clashes between the Armenian and Azerbaijanis at the vigil in London. Hikmet Hajizade comments: “There is an awakening in the country! The students, workers, billionaires, children of the oligarchs, musicians, LGBTs came into motion. It reminds me of 1989” He also mentions that both killed at the front line colonel Raqif Orujov and general Polad Hashimov received a military education in Turkey during the president Elchibey in office. Seymur Hezi suggests that by re-arresting the Karabagh war veterans such as Yusifli and earlier -Yagublu the president wants to taboo the topic of Karabagh. Politicians report the arrest of the 11 protesters from various cities ( Urmu, Tabriz, Teheran) of Iran, who expressed their solidarity with the independent Azerbaijan. The leaders speak about the “trap” which was prepared by the government for people who sincerely went out to show their demand and support for Karabagh cause in front of the parliament trying to attract them to the provocation. The proof of that was the presence of the high level representatives of the MNS ( such as general Rauf Khalafov) in the parliament building in civilian clothes. They argue that nobody will believe the true intention of the government when they keep in prison activists Karabagh war veterans. On the 17th July Ali Karimli of PFP issued a statement on the new wave of arrests of the Popular Front Party members. He argues that the HR defenders report 70 people (PFP activists, public leaders, ordinary citizens) arrested. Khadija Ismayil suggests that either the government is afraid of a social explosion or prepares for the surrender peace agreement and tests public’s reaction, otherwise it would not arrest everyone regardless of their being in opposition. She also comments that Ali Karimli said that due to the war they freeze the opposition activities for the sake of the national interests, in response the president Aliyev arrested 8 PFP members. She also attracts attention of the human rights defenders and lawyers to the numerous people, who are not known as activists and were detained by the police and need legal defense. Tofig Yagublu from prison compares his unjust trial and imprisonment with the fate of the two Azerbaijani hostages captured by the Armenian army few years ago, and who cannot count on fair trial. FB reports that the board member of the PFP Bakhtiyar Imanov was taken from his home to the police department. The activists share reaction of the PACE’s Stephan Schennach to the arrests in Baku- “ the opposition is not an enemy!” and that every case will be thoroughly investigated and discussed with president Aliyev, Justice and Interior ministers at their planned meeting in the fall. The National Council issued a statement in connection with the post 14th rally detentions. It says that during the president’s speech on the 15th July he put all the blame for the provocations at the parliament building on the opposition. It was exactly after this speech at least 6 members of the Popular Front Party were arrested and the criminal cases were opened against 3. The statement appeal to the international community to use all possible means of pressure on president Aliyev. The statement condemning detentions was also issued by the group of NGO leaders– members of the National Platform of the EaP CSF. Ali Karimli issued a statement where he appeals to the society to raise their voice in defense of the political prisoners – Karabagh war veterans, first of all Tofig Yagublu and Asif Yusifli– as their health is under great risk. The academic and author, professor Elmira Mamedaliyeva, who is a PFP member, has written about the death of the general and the persecution of activists. She said that not the title of general, but his integrity and love to people made his death so special for the people, thousand sof which went to the rally. But she argues that people should be valued not when they died, but when they are alive. That’s why she urges people to defend 4 activists who are in prison and who are the Karabagh war veterans Asif Yusifli, Tofig Yagublu, Babek Hasanov, Saleh Rustamov. Ibrahim Ibrahimli appeals with the statement in regards the arrests of the PFP members, where he says, that the government got very scared by the flow of people who came to the rally on the 14th-15th and took an advantage of the situation to try to suppress the main target – the Popular Front Party. They arrested members, especially the young ones, taking them to the notorious Bandotdel of MIA, but they will fail to eliminate the party and its activities. Nuraddin Mammadli, the member of Majlis of the PFP compared the way of treatment of opposition with the methods of gestapo, and that the outcome will be the big social protest, which they will not be able to sustain. Khadija Ismayil comments that while there were mainly apolitical people at the rally, the government has arrested PFP members, some of the even did not participate in the rally. The FB users reports that political risoner Seid Bakuvi was released until the end of his terms for the home arrest.
Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR continues to discuss situation with pandemic and government measures to fight it. He regrets that in spite of oil income of 159,3 bln Azerbaijan by the health system index is on the 91 place of 93 countries being ahead only of Bangladesh and Venezuela and the country still did not introduce the medical insurance to the population. He argues that the situation is not bad from the point of view of quantitative indicators – there are 32 doctors, 60 medical personnel, 44,5 beds for each 10, 000 people. However, the quality is low, and the service should be improved by increase of social protection of the medical employees. He urges the government to pay 190 manat compensation to the unemployed and support for the small business also in July, due to the extension of the quarantine until the end of august, but it was reported today that the government will not extend payment of the state aid to July. Natig Jafarli comments that during unprecedented quarantine for 5 months it was proved that in 30 years there was not a single working institution, structure or state organ created- the health system died, social protection system was dead born, economy was primitive and the governance is poor. The function of state in these areas are replaced by the family, and that’s why there is ideology in the political struggle, which is defined merely by clan relations, he concludes.
The provocation at the Parliament building is shared and discussed by the FB community. Habib Muntazir comments that Rapid Police Regiment was tightly guarding the building until some moment when they stepped back for the group of people, who did not break, but opened the doors. The RPR did not make any moves but was observing the process in violation of its duty to prevent it. Besides the photo with Rauf Khalafov general major of Ministry of National Security ( and the cousin of Ilham Aliyev, who was last year awarder by the order of Service to the Homeland of the 3d degree) in the building of the parliament among the group of provocateurs was also quickly circulated by the activists and bloggers.
Situation at the border and official reaction to it continues to be the hot topic. In particular, the statement of Ilham Aliyev that only 150 people appealed as volunteers to go to the front line caused lot of indignant comments from the FB community. They explain it The FB community widely share and discuss the positon in Turkey, which expressed high support both at the level of the prime minister and 4 major factions in the parliament to Azerbaijan in connection with the attacks on the state border. They report that the silence of Azerbaijani parliament ( except for Ilyas Ismaylov) and the statement of Aliyev about insufficient number of volunteers looks extremely anti-popular. Moreover, they even tried to drag them into provocation by breaking in the parliament building. Hajibeyli stresses that judging by the rhetoric and persecution of activists the true enemy for Aliyev’s regime is not Armenia, but the opposition. She reports the arrest among other PFP members also the mother of two toddlers Matanat Turani.
People continue to give various interpretations to the violation of the ceasefire in Tovuz, one of which is the intention to threaten security of strategically important energy infrastructure and communication lines nearby. There also a report that according to the MP Arzu Nagiyev in two regions under shelling at least 15 victims were buried. This contradicts the official data by the Ministry of Defense. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev comments that in the presidential administration there should be a close control over what the president says (referring to the statements about him not being able to find foreign minister Mammadyarov during the attack, about traitors diplomats, low number of volunteers etc). He also notes the following traits of the situation: first time two high level military were killed y the targeted fire of the enemy, near 50 parties, including opposition expressed their support to the president if he decides to respond to the attack, the same support and demand was expressed by tens of thousands of people at the rally, Turkey expressed its support at all levels, Russia and CSTO abstained from support of Armenia, the sons of the ministers expressed their willingness to fight at the front line, and the new foreign minister speaking Azerbaijan language was appointed. He considers, that there are all conditions for resolving the issue by answering to the fire from Armenia side. However, if this time like in all previous cases, they will stop here saying that “we taught them a lesson”, and will use the opportunity to slander and persecute the opposition, this will not end well and his rating will fall down close to zero. The group of young activists started signing campaign of the petition- appeal to the US Congress, where they stress the possible reasons of the resumption of hostilities of Armenia at the state border: testing of Russia and CSTO possible involvement in the military actions and undermining security of the strategic energy and communication lines nearby. The petition calls it the direct result of the illegal occupation of the Azerbaijan territory by Armenia and the politics of Armenia since 2019. The FB community shared information about rallies in the US and in the UK.
The corruption and misappropriation of state funds is another continuous topic on FB. Gubad Ibadoglu reports that 5 big tax payers has taken the budget funds 11 times greater (2 bln 45 mln manat) the amount they contributed to the budget. (184,9 mln Manat) – among them Azerbaijani Railways, Azerigas, Azerenerji, Azersu, the Caspian ship company which remain the burden on the budget. Jamil Hasanli comments on the statement of the president Aliyev about president Elchibey that “they were daily eating sausage with vodka in his office”. He reminds that the names of the family members of Ilham Aliyev are mentioned in connection with almost every corruption scandal in the world, while Elchibey asked his daughter to wait for the next salary to buy her new shoes. He quotes an MP Ilyas Ismayilov who said “Eating sausage is not a sin, while eating the state resources is the biggest one”.
The FB community discussed the situation in Khabarovsk, Russia, which witnessed massive rallies and protest meetings. Natig Jafarli comments that people went out in protest against the elected in the second tour governor Sergey Furgal. He comments with irony that although this case clearly demonstrates the advantage of participation in elections, the opposition, which advocated boycotting Azerbaijan elections were most actively spreading and sharing this case of Russia’s protest movement. He says that the protests in Belarus also are arranged in connection with elections.
The story evolving around exchange of threats by the Armenian and Azerbaijani diplomats and its circulation in the Western media was widely commented on as the next fiasco of Azerbaijan diplomacy. Investigative journalist Khadija Ismayil commented that “three years ago the idiot from the government of Armenia boasted that their Iskanders are so powerful that can destroy the hydropower station in Mingechavir and cause the environmental catastrophe. Then two years ago another idiot in the Karabagh separatist regime repeated this threat. Two days ago another idiot – a journalist– asked the press secretary of the Ministry of Defence whether they are ready to counteract the threat. In response the fourth idiot – press secretary of the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defence said that if Armenia does it- they have a possibility to destroy the Metzamor nuclear station. Then Tass agency of Russia only partially quotes the guy, not mentioning that this was a response to the threat. And after that this seriously reduced story gets in the international mass media. Idiots usually lose, she concludes, and I wonder why it’s our idiots who loose, and also the world mass media too, because they so easily published fake news.
July 21, 2020