Center for National and International Studies
The developments around Ramiz Mehdiyev, ex-head of presidential administration dominated FB this time. FB community discusses his unusual response, full of criticism of the bureaucracy and pro-government forces and contrasting them to the “true opposition”. The activists warn against his manipulation by public opinion reminding that the very system is created by himself. They discredit the official myth about “fight of reformers and conservatives”. The others consider the inter-clan fighting as distracting from the real reason of the system – President Aliyev– and from accumulated serious problems in the society and focus on situation with political prisoners and others such as recently adopted decree about lowering cost of the free from tax items being brought from abroad, measure, further undermining small business. The protests in Belarus, poisoning of Russian opposition leader Navalny continued to be shared and discussed. The other popular topic is visit of the Minister of Defence of Russia Shoigu and the possibility of location of Turkish military bases in the country. FB also discusses the statement of the president Aliyev, that “one should not put an eye to the money of poor”, or him instructing the heads of regional executive power “to attract investors”. FB users continue to share revealed illegal riches of the bureaucrats- this time the properties and businesses of the ex-rector of the state University Abel Maharramov.
The FB community shares an comments recent publication of the ex-head of presidential administration Ramiz Mehdiyev, where he criticises pro-government personalities, and contrast them to the “true opposition”. While it is treated as an expression of inter-clan fighting, the activists and political leaders warn against paying too much attention to his issue, which might be used as a tool of distraction of public opinion from the true cause of the dire situation in the country. Ali Karimli’s interview to Meydan TV is called “ Ramiz Mehdiyev falls victim of the system created by himself”. He argues, that punishment of Ramiz Mehdiyev is not an expression of a rule of law, as it is not applied to the corruption of the officials for instance, or in such case long before adopted laws ( 2005) “On Declaration of Income of the Officials, and “On Tender” would be implemented. He does not comment on the intrigues and statements of various bureaucrats because one should focus on the root cause of the problems in the country, which is Ilham Aliyev himself. He also warns against buying into a myth of the struggle of Aliyev’s reformers group against conservatives and compares the situation before removing Mehdiyev from his position to that after it. The multimillion corruption is still taking place, the elections are falsified as before, activists and Karimli’s colleagues are still being arrested and tortured, which means the system has not changed. He considers that the main indicator of true opposition is to tell the truth. He decries the rumours that PFP cooperates with Ramiz Mehdiyev, commenting that tortures and arrests cannot be called cooperation. He also considers that arrest of the ambassador Eldar Hasanov is a refection of the in-group fighting in the government. Answering to the question whether by removing Mehdiyev etc. Aliyev gets rid of Russian agents, he denounces this argument and states that he simply do not want to see a competitor in any area- domestic or foreign policy, including in relations with Russia. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev also stresses the irony that Ramiz Mehdiyev calls unjust the system, which was created by himself. He concludes that this story also showed that the same way the system eliminated its creator, it will do it with the others on top of it. He also refers to the myth about reformers. He stresses, that the local elections without Mehdiyev were conducted with the same degree of falsifications, the so called young cadres appointed all their uncles, aunties, and other relatives to the government positions. They did not give 190 manats to all in need, even more so- blocked the remaining sum on the cards, as if there was no need in it. He argues there is no difference between the clans and that people curses all of them, so both the “old” ones and the “new,young” ones should go. Seymur Hezi denounces spending time on discussion of inter-clan struggle in the government, as distracting attention from the problems, which he lists in his comment: the crisis in human rights area, the number of political prisoners exceeds 150 people, the freedom of assembly is non-existent, animosity to the opposition is an openly declared official policy, the execution of ECHR decisions practically stopped, the solution of the Karabagh conflict is full of uncertainty, the knowledge about status of relations with the other neighbours for society is unclear, the monopolization of economic and political power having negative influence on majority of the citizens lives is continuing, majority of population is struggling for daily survival. He comments that it is not important who of the two bad ones will win, but that one of them will come out weakened, or totally destroyed. Rabiyya Mammadova refers to Ramiz Mehdiyev’s skills of manipulation by the public opinion and warns against his possible perception as an opposition. Ramis Yunus views this conflict as an evidence that for years Azerbaijan has been governed by greedy, cynical and uneducated criminals, for whom the concept of statehood does not exist and the future under their leadership is a disaster. Alasgar Aahmadoglu, the lawyer, reminds that Ramiz Mehdiyev retains an important position in the government, as he is one of 17 members of Commission on State Secrets.
Economists and activists comment on the president Aliyev’s instruction to the heads of regional executive power “ to attract investors”. Natig Jafarli argues that besides contradicting the law, it is also meaningless, as they do not have right or responsibilities to do that. Only local government can do that, like in Turkey, for instance. He also answers the president’s statement that businessmen take their capital abroad, instead of investing in the country, that there the conditions in the country for that are not attractive. He concludes that the solution of all these problems are not in the area of economy, but politics. Activists, journalists comment on the other statement of president- that “one should not keep an eye on the money of poor people”. Jamil Hasanli notes, that “our “honorable president” still does not understand that the billions that he and his family members took out of this country and placed in offshore accounts, are the money of the poor.”
FB users continue to denounce the pompous greeting of the Russian military ships, and visit by the Russian Defence Minister Shoigu. One of them jokes, that if the authorities greeted the ship with the folk dance, they most probably will greet “his highness” (the minister) with the strip dance. They discuss the reception of Shoigu by various bureaucrats, in particular hosting dinner by the prime-minister in his own restaurant Mangal Steak House in Bailov district with the Azerbaijani Defence minister Zakir Hasanov and Najmaddin Sadighov , the head of Military Headquarters. Seymur Hezi warns against playing games with Russia, which may lead to unexpected results. Former advisor to president Heydar Aliyev, and the alternative, but not registered presidential candidate Eldar Namazov commented on Shoigu’s visit just in the eve of the first visit of the new foreign minister Bayramov to Russia on the 26th august to the newspaper Yeni Musavat. He does not consider this visit as an acquaintance one, but suggests that all the preceding developments ( including proposal of location of Turkish bases in Azerbaijan) suggest that the significant geopolitical changes are ahead. He argues that they are even more important than those after collapse of the Soviet Union, because Russia’s military domination has been unchanged until now. He considers that both Bayramov vist to Moscow, and the visit of Shoigu are dedicated to the issue of arms supply to Armenia during the July battles. But Russia tries to split the issue by making diplomatic maneuvers. Shoigu was sent to soften the hard issues to be discussed at the meeting of two foreign ministers in Moscow. He argues, that Russia understands her difficult situation and that position of Azerbaijan and Turkey is justified, and asserts that both countries should move ahead in changing geopolitics of the region, as Russia makes them do it because of her mistakes and wrong policy in the region. Seymur Hezi notes, that Bayramov expressed support for the political solution of the Karabagh conflict in his talks with Lavrov, but forgot to mention hundreds of thousands rally in support of the army and Karabagh solution. He explains it by the fact, that the government used the rally to persecute opposition and calls it government defeating the state.
The FB community continues sharing the news from the court hearing of Tofig Yagublu and denouncing fake testifying. Yadigar Sadyghli comments shockingly on how the parent could have ordered his 15 year old son to testify in the court and witness him lying in their presence in the court. FB users actively use social network for “naming and shaming” of the fake witnesses in Tofig Yagublu case. Habib Muntazir reports a small victory of societal pressure- 5 policemen of the Binagadi police department has been fired as a result of the photos of tortured detainees spread recently in FB. Nigar Hezi reports that the judge Nariman Mehdiyev could not show the ID of the fake witness (presenting him as Javanshir instead of him being Novruz) and explained it by “the system not working, broken”. Tofig Yagublu responded that “the system did not work and was broken since 15 June 1993” ( when the PFP government was ousted in the coup d’etats- L.A) The FB community shares and signs the petition to the US Congress about including president Aliyev and other officials in the Global Magnitsky Act. ADR movement’s leaders have been holding consultations with experts on the issue of party building and major problems of the country.Bakhtiyar Hajiyev reports that the files with complaint on the violations at his constituency at the last parliamentary elections were sent to the ECHR with the help of lawyer Javad Javadov.
FB community widely shares news about Belarus, in particular the celebration of the independence day by the protesters. Ali Karimli calls Belarussians “ courageous and struggling people” He expresses his belief that the same way they achieved their independence, they will eventually achieve democracy as a result of their already lasting 17 days of protest. He congratulates Belarus people and wish them success. Yadigar Sadyghli argues, that behavior of Lukashenka reminds that of a violent husband who does not to give a divorce to his wife. While the whole world watches touchingly peaceful protest of the Belarus people, he is armed and threatens – “you will either be mine, or will die”
Activists, journalists and bloggers follow the stae of health of Navalny and the international reaction to it. Ali Karimli of PFP writes about pressures on Putin to investigate the case of poisoning: among them Stoltenberg of NATO, UK premier Boris Johnson, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, Foreign Ministry of France, Jose Borrel of EU, State Secretary of the US Michael Pompeo, who said if the fact of poisoning is confirmed, the US will undertake strict steps.
The FB community discusses meeting of the NGO leaders with Hikmet Hajiyev. Gunel Safarova supports the fact of the meeting and suggests that hopefully the following problems will be resolved as a result of this dialogue: revision of the NGO law, cancellation of the registration of the donor-foreign entity, easing of the resgitration of the NGOs and foundations, delegating it to ASAN, change completely the nature of NGO council etc.
FB users comment on the worsening conditions for bringing in goods from abroad- lowering the cost of free from customs duties, which come up to 36%. Economic experts and political leaders argue, that the cost of goods free from customs duties should be increased not decreased and that instead of helping the citizens to survive this difficult period, they make it harder, and this is a serious blow to the development of the small business in the country. Habib Muntazir jokingly comments, that based on expenses in the country this decree would mean, that in order to bring one pair of trousers for oneself, the citizen will need to bring three more for the head of Customs Safar Mehdiyev. He lists the properties and villas of Safar Mehdiyev and his relatives, who own land, villas and business starting from Nakhichevan to Gusar, Shamakha, Mardakian towns of the country. Muntazir reports that a few dozens of his relatives work in the State Customs Committee, where he is a chair. Ali Karimli quotes status by Pavel Polanski who describes the system of money “extortion” at the border customs in Azerbaijan. MP Erkin Gadirli suggests that the Customs Committee as a separate agency should be eliminated, and all the tariffs, customs etc.. should be under the parliamentary oversight, but in reality they avoid the parliament.
FB users share information about illegal properties of bureaucrats, such as the company Akmu LTD in London, owned by the chair of the Board of the State Agency for Mandatory Health Insurance Zaur Aliyev, investigated by journalist
Hafiz Babali. Gubad Ibadoglu reports that Azebaijan occupied one of the first places on the consumption of the medicine in the world. In first half of 2020 the trade by medicine increased almost two times compared to the last year. It is not excluded, that the high rating is connected to the double price which the medicine is sold to population. Only in July its sale was two times higher than an average monthly amount.- 55 mln dollars. The sale of medicine is in the hands of a few companies, who do not compete, but agree with each other, and it causes the problems both in quality and price of them. It is higher than in Turkey, Russia and Iran. The FB community shares an information about another wedding – this time of the grandchild of the chief of the Security Service of Ilham Aliyev general-colonel Beyler Eyubov in his won restaurant Amore in Novkhani village and that nobody punished him. They also share the list of properties and businesses of the ex-rector of the State University Abel Maharramov. Gunel Safarova considers that if someone will show this list with the official salary of the rector abroad, “they would put that person at least in the psychiatric clinic” the list includes 10 most expensive cars ( including Bentley, Lamborghini, BMW) , 10 villas all over Azerbaijan, 9 various businesses. Ramis Yunus comments on happy birthday wishes to the first lady and vice-president stressing that she is one of the most corrupt people in the country because she leads the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which is a money laundering mechanism, but what is presented then as a “patronage of arts and charity”. He suggests that she should be dismissed from her position of the Good Will Ambassador of UNESCO. Ruzgar Movsum recalls popular slogan with irony: “ Many years ago: Those, who want to see paradise- visit Azerbaijan”, After Heydar and Ilham Aliyev rule: Those, who want to see corruption, repressions, nepotism, bureaucratic arbitrariness – visit Azerbaijan”
August 28, 2020