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Center for National and International Studies




The events in Belarus occupy main space on FB.The community is trying to assess and predict developments there, actively share updates from the streets of Minsk and news from the other cities and discuss consequences for Azerbaijan. They focus on eventual mobilization of all social circles of Belarus society, including intelligentsia, who was resigning in protest from their jobs and signing appeals, foreign reaction and the leading role of women and young people. The photos with women hugging police in the street were not free from controversy, as in some cases were accompanied by conservative remarks, but were outnumbered by the appraising comments of activists, journalists and feminists. The ruling party YAP continues  discrediting PFP and NC blaming them to be “agents of Armenia”, and who humiliate their people. FB community also shares the statement by S&D group of the European Parliament demanding expulsion of Belarus and Azerbaijan from the Eastern Partnership program.

FB community is confident that people won their battle with the regime in Belarus. The activists, public leaders, journalists share the update with inspiration and strong support for the people’s struggle and discuss its influence on the situation in Azerbaijan. Some argue, that after the Belarus people victory the country will accelerate its integration in the EU. This will increase the expectations and responsibility of the society of Azerbaijan, which will be the only outsider in the process. Gubad Ibadoglu lists the lessons for the people, intelligentsia, people of art, police and others. He reminds that within  a week after the falsified elections more than 1000 academics signed the appeal in support of the protesters. At least 50 special police forces refused to attack people, at least 10 TV anchors refused to broadcast lies and resigned from their jobs, while intelligentsia and artists went out to the street protests together with people. The young people led the movement and were very restrained and tolerant to application of force by the government while women expressed their love to the police who refused to execute orders. They also discuss that Lukashenka is looking for the place of escape for himself- like Moscow, Abu-Dabi, Karakas and even Baku. Gultakin Hajibeyli comments that the people of Belarus are writing the history. She also mentions that the representative of the presidential administration Adalat Valiyev, who conducted dialogue with the opposition, has asked them to express their support for Lukashenka. ( she meant the parliamentary opposition, including REAL). She also argues, that legitimate winner of the elections Tichanovskaya should return to the country and start her functions of a president. Habib Muntazir lists the Lukashenka’s actions, which are typical of any dictator on preservation of the post.1) Blamed the foreign forces, 2) utilized the “separatism” issue, 3) called the protesters “ sheep, drug abusers”, 4) started talks with Putin 5) threatened by the military exercises on the border with Lithuania. Jamil Hasanli states that Belarus people in a civilized revolution are getting rid of 26 year old dictatorship of Lukashenka and they inspire the whole world by their consistent struggle. He argues, that the hatred of Azerbaijani people to Aliyev is greater than in Belarus to Lukashenka. He compares both leaders and says that while in Belarus  those who were tortured were still able to return to the public rallies, those activists in Azerbaijan who went through the torture laboratory in  Bandotdel  of MIA could not even be brought to the court room. It is not by accident that Ilham Aliyev sent his congratulatory letter to Lukashenka on the occasion of his “election”, he concludes, but his rule is also approaching the end.  He concludes that Azerbaijan is in the eve of changes. The FB users also note with appraisal, that while Lukashenka spoke at one of the factories, expecting support, the workers cried “Go away” instead. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev warns people not to develop inferiority complex and get discouraged by those, who say, that they, unlike people in Belarus,  are not capable of winning, that they are not courageous etc. He argues, that the people, who show courage and unity today, did not differ much from them 3-4 months ago. But when the patience of people is over, they say, this is enough. Ali Karimli speaks about the lessons of the Belarus events for Azerbaijani activists. He also mentions that every dictator has a chance of leaving his position peacefully by means of elections, but Lukashenka lost this chance. He continues that here is another dictator is defeated, and another nation is writing its glorious history. He argues, that it is because the number of protesters reached 100 thousands there is a no-return point and Russia will not send its troops to help Lukashenka. Instead, the support of international community to the people of Belarus will grow day by day. It is not possible not to see the happy reaction of Azerbaijani people to this victory of Belarus. The government of Azerbaijan in turn should draw conclusions and learn lessons from this experience and release all political prisoners, and give a start to the peaceful change of power. Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR lists a few characteristics of the current wave of democratization in Belarus: 1) arrests and tortures of near 7 000 people did not stop the people 2) the leading forces in protests against the falsified elections-are women during the day time and young people- at night. 3) the  state TB and radio journalists resigned in solidarity with their colleagues 4) intelligentsia is not keeping silence and the Nobel prize winner Alexiyevich wrote an appeal to Lukashenka asking him to leave his post. 5) Police not only resigns from their positions, but even record videos pledging their readiness to work with Tichanovskaya. 6) the International community takes more clear and open position, not recognizing the results of elections and calling for the sanctions.He suggests, that after the “ Arab spring” the “Russian spring” is coming- as inspired by events in Belarus they are preparing for the all national action. He urges Azerbaijani democrats to unite. Ilkin Rustamzade compares, although deliberately in an exaggerated way, the reaction of the parents to the killing of their sons in two republics. The parents of the victim in Belarus invited all protesters to the burial of their son, while in Azerbaijan the parents of those killed by the regime, take money from the government and calls for non-politicization of the burial. People stress that protests do not stop or weaken, and also take place in the other cities of BelarusMinsk, Jodino, Brest, Grodno, Mogilov, Gomel etc. Ali Karimli stresses that because of consistency and enlargement of the protests unlike in previous days the force was not applied to protesters on the 13 august. He stresses importance of all national strike, first of all the biggest factories such as Belaz and Maz, and numerous resignations from the law enforcement, security structures, even from the presidential administration. At the same time, he notes more decisive stance of international actors, such as foreign minister of Germany, EU High Commissioner Josef Borrel, US state secretary Pompeo, UN High Commissioner Michel Bachelet, as well as presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland. He also appealed to the people to join the struggle of opposition for the country’s  future.  FB users report that Lukashenka appealed to all world dictators to support him and seems to be ready to sacrifice the country’s sovereignty for protection of his power. B.Hajiyev considers that Azerbaijan can occupy the place of the “ last dictatorship of Europe” and while the government tries to discredit and discourage  society by spreading “ our people are not brave”. “ there is no unity among our people” , both themselves and the society know that this is not true. Some FB users make a parallel with the events in Azerbaijan in 1990, some compare with 2003. Sevinc Osmangizi TV devoted a program with commentators and politicians to the Belarus events.

The women activists, feminists and others discuss the reaction of various forces to the hugs and kisses of Belarus women to the police who refused to execute orders and attack people. They comment with indignancy posts of some conservative FB users, who focus on women showing emotions in relations to police.  Bakhtiyar Hajiyev comments that not the women who kiss police in the street are immoral, but those who are carrying voter’s ballots in their underwear and do ballot stuffing in the falsified elections.

The functionary of ruling party YAP  Siyavush Novruz criticizes opposition, stating that “it eats bread of Armenians”, and primarily targets Popular Front Party, saying that there are no independent thinking or normal people left in this party, further he mentions Jamil Hasanli, Gultakin Hajibeyli as those, who humiliate their people.

The FB users comment on the situation with opposition in Azerbaijan. They attract attention to the 7th day of hunger strike of the detained Mehdi Ibrahim, who is held in prison as a hostage as his father is a PFP member and demand his freedom.  His health is deteriorating and his family members calling people to be active in his defence. Seymur Hezi comments that although they put Ali Karimli on the travel ban since 2006 ( not giving his a foreign passport) and keep him in virtual blockade for 4 month, the budget did not increase, and the number of dissatisfied did not decrease. They also share an information that S&D group of the European Parliament calls for expulsion of Belarus and Azerbaijan from the Eastern Neighborhood. The activists share the information about the court hearing of Tofig Yagublu and the fake witnesses, the last one  Arzu Babayeva, who got so confused in fake testifying that said she would never be a witness in the court in the future. The other fake witness was Ilgar Mehdiyev, a policeman. FB shares the statement of the National Council of Democratic Forces against the tortures in Azerbaijan. Seymur Hezi a deputy chair of PFP argues that 15 July 2020 will get into a history as the day of a second national revival.

Khadija Ismayil shares the letter from the wife of the activist Nijad Ibrahim, who was arrested for the participation in the action in front of the Presidential Apparatus 20th July and for 9 days they did not have any contacts with him. He was sentenced for three months under  “spreading the virus” charges. They did not bring him even at the Court of Appeal on the 28th July. The wife assures that he is free of COVID. There is a permanent hacking of his telephone number and the FB account. In spite of her appeal to all possible state structures , she still has no information about her husband. They also prohibit meeting with the lawyer and the family to the son of the activist Mammad Ibrahim, Mehdi Ibrahim, who is on hunger strike in prison.

Activists, bloggers and journalists concern the situation with pandemic and the government’s not only any absence of  concessions on communal payments bills, but even rising the price for them two times during pandemic. This is in contrast with Georgia which freed population from communal bills payments for 7 months during pandemic.

The activists and bloggers are actively discussing the role of Turkey in Azerbaijan security and Karabagh conflict. They also mention that the fact of transfer by Russia of more than 400 tons of weapons to Armenia via air zones of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan  and Iran was confirmed. They also discuss the BBC interview of Nikol Pashinian in the program HardTalk. They also discuss the “dissatisfaction” shown to Russia by president Aliyev in his telephone conversation with Putin regarding Russia’s arms supply to Armenia. The activists speak about convenient moment to weaken Russia’s influence in the region. Ali Karmili considers that AzerbaijanTurkish relations moved to a new stage.

They also share and comment on the continued arrests of the bureaucrats, most recently of the former prosecutor , now the ambassador to Serbia Eldar Hasanov.They saw contradiction in arresting him- on the one hand, while not arresting the other, whose son wears watches for 2 mln manats. They suggest that his political stance was slightly different and there were people who has been working on his arrest for a while already.

The issue of corruption and shadow economy is a permanent topic on FB. The issue of conducting tenders is particularly discussed. Habib Muntazir attracts the attention to the fact, that tenders announced by the Ministry of Education are usually won by the same three companies. He also reports that three people in civilian clothes has taken the employee of the oil company Nurlana from her house while beating her and took her in an unknown direction in the car away. There were two cars, one of which belonged to Bakhtiyar Iskandarov.

August 18, 2020

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