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Center for National and International Studies




FB community commemorates 20th anniversary since the death of the first president of Azerbaijan Elchibey,  analysing his role in nation’s history, contribution to the state, nation and democracy building of Azerbaijan, covering both strong and weak points of his rule, but stressing his unique democratic personality, pure and modest leadership style and his influence on society. They also commemorate 40th day of military killed during the last resumption of hostilities in Tovuz region.  The community follows and shares events in Belarus, expresses solidarity with its people and attempts to anticipate whether similar developments are possible in Azerbaijan in the nearest future. The assessment of the latter diverges among various political groups. They also share news and decry poisoning of Alexei Navalny, making parallels to the pressure on Azerbaijani opposition. FB users share and denounce the results of the court hearing of Tofig Yagublu, which involved once again testifying of the fake witnesses and had a negative effect on Yagublu’s already vulnerable health. They actively discuss the irony of arrest of the former “ grey cardinal” Ramiz Mehdiyev  and other participants of the wedding party of his granddaughter for violation of the rules of quarantine. Some FB users interpret it as a “ black mark” to the former head of presidential administration. They also comment on the continuing arrests of the local heads of executive power of the regions- this time of Kurdamir region.

Public leaders, activists, journalists write their posts dedicated to the late president Elchibey. Hikmet Hajizade, ex-ambassador to Russia during Elchibey presidency, authored an article about him, where he describes his dissident and nationalist activities during the years in the University, for which Elchibey was sentenced for 4,5 years in prison in 1975. He was prohibited to teach after he was amnestied, but he continued his activities while working in the Academy of Sciences and joins the national movement for democracy and liberation with perestroika. In 1989 he is elected the chair of the Popular Front Movement of Azerbaijan and in 1992 with 56% of votes – the president of the country. Hajizade wrote, that his major achievement was the restoration of  nation, which was given her repressed history and national culture (restored the Latin alphabet which was replaced by Bolsheviks into Cyrillic in the 30s) back.  His government has conducted such fundamental reforms  as introduction of the multi-party system, laws in protection of the ethnic minorities and freedom of expression, introduction of national currency, freedom of trade and currency flow. In the foreign policy he sharply changed the orientation refusing to enter CIS and developing relations with NATO, and in 1993 the Russian bases were forced to leave the country after 200 years of occupation. This infuriated Russia, which tried to put pressure on Azerbaijan helping Armenia in Karabagh conflict. And in 1993 with the support of Russia special service Elchibey was ousted as a result of the coup’ d’états. Since then he lived in his village  Keleki, Nakhichevan. In 1997 he returns to Baku, where he stays as a chair of the PFP until his death. He mentions the controversy  regarding his leadership style – some blaming him to be too weak, not decisive, but Hajizade says that he focused on big problems, and lived in the world of ideas. He disagrees that with death of Elchibey, the period of romanticism in politics went away, as there are always people, who dream big and are ahead of their time. Ali Karimli the leader of PFP speaks about his role in the history and state building of the country and the reasons of him being the government’s target of animosity even after his death. Isa Gambar of Musavat arranged the webinar devoted to the memory of Elchibey, where participants spoke about his unique contribution to restoration of Azerbaijani identity, him laying the basis of democratic state and unique leadership style. Gubad Ibadoglu considers that government was the only one in 28 years of independence which was close to the people, and he also gives a tribute to another member of that government ( minister of education, who introduced the test system) Vurgun Eyyub and notes that both of them lived only 62 years.

The FB users  commemorate the 40th day of the victims of the last resumption of hostilities in the state border, which caused spontaneous mass rally in support of the army and resolution of  Karabagh conflict. They also share an information by the Ministry of Defence about the operation of the Armenian intelligence in the direction of Goranboy, which resulted in capturing of commander of the operation Gurgen Alberian. The ADR movement held hearings on Karabagh conflict.

The events in Belarus continues to be in the centre of attention of FB community. People express solidarity and follow events with great inspiration. Jamil Hasanli compares Lukashenka with Aliyev and argues that the latter is worse than the former. Independent and opposition media outlets discuss and compare the situation in two countries, in particular overall possibility of change of power via elections in Belarus and Azerbaijan. Majority consider that the appearance of armed Lukashenka in the helicopter will not save him, but only will make his position worse, as the leader who fights his own people cannot win. Tofig Yagublu in his message from prison suggests that the events in Belarus will inspire president Aliyev to the new wave of arrests and persecutions.

The FB community is ridiculing Lukashenka’s lies about his father being killed in the WW2 while he was born in 1954 and his appearance with automatic gun and in helicopter. While majority of opposition anticipates the soonest end of Azerbaijani dictatorship, some, like Gubad Ibadoglu considers that there is little chance that it may repeat in Azerbaijan now, unless all the society wants changes, those who want them change themselves,  the capable  of uniting all forces leader appears.

The activists continue to share and deplore the court hearing of Tofig Yagublu. They remind that the incident took place near market at 8th km. and his car was hit, while parked, by the specially prepared people, who then would present themselves in the court as victims. While Yagublu immediately called the police to report the incident, they have arrested him, not those to blame. His daughter Nigar Hezi also reports the pressing issue of health of her brother Rahim Yagublu who was drafted to the army, in spite of him being ill and in need of surgery. FB community shares the cartoon, where the “performing” and ordered nature of the court of Tofig Yagublu is depicted with Ilham Aliyev behind the scenes. Ramis Yunus, a commentator in exile gave an interview urging society to defend Tofig Yagublu, arguing the society is going through the moral test. Sevinj Osmangizi TV broadcasted the discussion of Alekber Arifoglu and Chingiz Sultansoy with analysis of the situation in  the US, Belarus, Azerbaijan. They touch upon the questions: why Mehriban Aliyeva as a woman politician is not accepted abroad, while Kamala Harris has such a popularity? The participants agree that the answer is in popular legitimacy of a politician- whether she has been elected in free and fair elections, or was appointed as a result of nepotism.

FB community follow the news about state of health of Alexey Navalny and decry poisoning by Putin’s regime its opponents. They discuss reaction of Germany and France and decision to provide for treatment in Germany and delay in delivery of him for the boarding to the special plane sent from Germany. They remind the previous cases of poisoning of Litvinenko and Skripals. Gultakin Hajibeyli of NCDF calls it the “appearance of the new forms of fascism before our eyes” and that the fate of the hit by the car human rights defender Ogtay Gulaliyev is another example of that. Jamil Hasanli of NCDF makes a parallel with the fate of Nemtsov, in Azerbaijan- with Gulaliyev. He lists the pressure and tortures, which activists had to go through in Azerbaijan. He argues that the current situation is more dangerous than before due to the deepening crisis and increasingly exhausting patience of the president, and mentions particularly  high pressure on Gultakin Hajibeyli and  Ali KarimliAli Karimli in turn is optimistic about an agreement between Europe and Russia and that Putin accepted the suggestion that the situation in Belarus to be resolved with mediation of OSCE, which removes the possibility of Putin’s direct involvement in the situation in Belarus.

The activists continue to discuss the in-group fighting within the government circles. They discuss the arrest and fining of the participants of the wedding party of ex-head of the presidential administration and currently the president of the Academy of Science Ramiz Mehdiyev’s granddaughter. The lavish celebration caused critical comments in the social networks  and perception it as  privilege of the elite in the times of pandemic and resulted in the consequent punishment of the organizers of the wedding.   Activists comment however  that the following selective application of justice testifies to the inter-clan struggle rather than to the rule of law.  Gubad Ibadoglu reminds that in spite of the numerous and convincing evidence, confirmed by the leading human rights defenders of the country, the person who attacked Jale Bayramova at the polling station during the last parliamentary elections as an observer in Lenkoran -Astara constituency on the 9 February, is still not punished. The two contradicting each other statements by the deputy chair of ruling YAP Siyavush Novruz, who was also fined as participant of that wedding,  is a subject of jokes and ironic comments. They also mention Rauf Arifoglu and his changing statements in various periods of his career – all proving the switching loyalties of the conformist power base of the current president. Fazail Agamali ( the “pocket” opposition)  called Ramiz Mehdiyev “ an anti-national element”. People also share an information that the video of weeding was made by the wife of the State Philharmonic the conductor Murad Adigozalov Aysel, discussing what was the motivation behind it. Gultakin Hajibeyli of NCDF ( National Council of Democratic Forces) is writing about irony of the punishment of Ramiz Mehdiyev, who himself for more than 2 decades ordered repressions of society and persecution of journalists, activists. The lawyer Alasgar Ahmadoglu notes the legal confusion and violation in the whole issue of punishments for the wedding party and concludes with irony, that while he was going to appeal to Ombudswoman for the violation of law in this case, she was fined herself.  The journalists report Siyavush Novruzov resigning from the his position of deputy executive secretary of the ruling YAP, some noting that this is the first right decision in his life. Media also report that just three days before MP Hadi Rajabli had a big party for 150 people in the Sea breeze restaurant , which belongs to Emin Agalarov. Ordukhan Babirov comments that the whole event was a show by the president’s family and Mehdiyev’s to distract attention of people from the main target. He assures that it will not work, as people will destroy the very basis of this regime, and expresses his solidarity with Belarus people. Nigar Hezi reminds while “sending” Mehdiyev down not to forget to do the same with his relative  judge Nariman Mehdiyev, who presided the court hearing of her father Tofig Yagublu.

Economic experts and political leaders comment that distribution of the budget money among relatives of the president’s family creates an impression that it is their budget, not that of the state: of 49 mln 034 thousands 791 manat, 38,4% allocated to the ADA University– rector Hafiz Pashayev ( uncle of the vice-president) 25,4% to the Baku branch of the Moscow State Medical Institute 2 – Jamil Aliyev, 24,2 % – Baku branch of Moscow State University – rector Nargiz Pashayeva ( sister of the vice-president) – 88%. The rest- 12% is distributed among 30 state higher educational institutions and 9 specialized high schools. Ali Karimli the leader of PFP comments on the new rule according to which the cost of the products brought to the country by individuals is reduced from 1500 to 800 dollars and the online  orders from 1000 to 300 dollars starting from 20 th September.  He stresses that contrary to expectations of people that authorities will promote and support free market it is strengthening its monopoly in economy. Economic expert Gubad Ibadoglu calls this measure “a hard blow to the small business”. Ganimad Zahid ( former editor in chief of Azadlig newspaper, now in exile) discloses the true reasons behind the high level activities, meetings etc. related to the water supply. He connects it to the Pasha Holding’s purchase of 10 thousand hectares of land in Oguz Gabala region, and the loss of 3 thousand hectares of grain harvest due to the drought. There was supposed to be built a water reservoir for this purposes. He ironically comments, that the reason of president’s anger was a failure to build the reservoir – “ purely altruistic”. He interprets the 15 days of arrest of Ilham Aliyev ( the in-law of Ramiz Mehdiyev) as a warning to the “ grey cardinal”. ( whose “colour” has also changed, by Zahid’s opinion). He argues that since he was “ sent” to Academy of Science and until now he was resisting and did not surrender his business to Pashayevs hence the arrest. If he does not surrender now, then the terms of arrest might be extended, he concludes. Habib Muntazir pubishes the list of those who was fined of 400 manats for participation at the wedding party: MP Siyavush Novruzov, his wife Sabina Aliyeva, former rector of the Baku State University Abel Magerramov, former Minister of Communication Ali Abbasov , the director of Philharmonics Murad Adigozalzade and his wife the author of the video Aysel Teymurzade ( the singer at Eurovision contest). He observes that although they do not touch Ramiz Mehdiyev, he is severely criticized on official TV channels. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev comments that the story with Ramiz Mehdiyev illuminated great inequality and injustice in the society, when uneducated people have billions, immoral ones run the country, while millions of people with their talents are in misery and oppression. Habib Muntazir reports the investigative operation in the office of the head of Ganja region’s executive power. Ali Karimli quotes Neymet Aliyev who reports Azerbaijan last rating in industrial production among FSU states.

Gubad Ibadoglu raises the issue of 1 bln worth equipment and parts for the nuclear reactor which the government bought for the construction of the research reactor in Gobu and compares it’s resources with the greed in distribution of the state aid of 190 manats to the citizens as a pandemic compensation. He notes that under the Ministry of Communication the National Nuclear Research Center enterprice was created, which cooperates with Russian “Rosatom”. He urges to treat the spent finances with suspicion, as well as numebrs reflecting import of electrical machines and eqauipment.

Gunel Movlud raises the issue of absence of the internet materials of educational and developing character for children in Azerbaijan. There is not much produced of high quality to confront the vulgar language, low quality content of the current official TVs.

August 24, 2020