Center for National and International Studies



 FB community discusses the scandal with the falsified data on Azerbaijan, along with some other countries, used in Doing Business report of the WB,  continues to discuss events in Belarus, shares the statement by PFP about illegal detentions of its members , decries the continued attraction of the fake witnesses to the court hearing of Tofig Yagublu,

FB community closely follows events in Belarus, solidarizing with the protesters. They share an information that former head of state Shushkevich called for depriving of Russian language of the status of official language of Belarus. Yadigar Sadighly reminds that although the country has been independent the native language is under threat of extinction, as in 2009 survey only 23 spoke Belarus language at home. They also discuss the possibility of Russia’s  involvement in the events in Belarus. Ramis Yunus comments on it from the US and argues, that  President Putin’s declaration that “Russia has generated a reserve of security forces to help Belarus” is reminiscent of similar statements from the Kremlin on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. He regrets  that the United States, the European Union and NATO are engaged only in admonishing Putin, just as they were in 2008 and 2014. This is the next test to protect democratic values in the post-Soviet space, and the adage that “If you’re drowning, you’re on your own” is relevant today more than ever. The activists, feminists and journalists share the rally of women in Belarus with inspiration and admiration. They post and share the mass rally on Sunday the 30th August and comment, that reacting to such a mass action of people by arrests and weapons is not just political but also amoral defeat of the government. (Ali Karimli). Altay Geyushov comments that Lukashenka is ready to betray his country for the sake of staying in power- “all the dictators are unhappy in a similar way”.

The Popular Front of Azerbaijan issued a statement about injustice being committed against its members by the authorities. It mentions that it is still not allowed to Niyameddin Ahmadov who was detained in July to meet with his family members. It alerts society about so called “Tubzone” (special treatment facility of the penitentiary service) which so far has been used to hide the prisoners. It reports that arrested three years ago the member of presidium of PFP Agil Maharramli who was infected by COVID and has been in Tubzone because of his protest against  activitsts’ arrests in July was put in the punishment cell. This is added by continued absence of  reports, confirming whether Fuad Gahramanli, Mahammad Imanli and other activists are still alive. There is total arbitrariness in the administrative detention center, which is under the auspices of Ministry of Interior  and it is like “concentration camp”. Any representative of the law enforcement of other state agencies can visit it and in violation of law take the prisoners to other places, where they are subjected to pressure, taken videos or written “confessions”. They are not given their personal items, including telephones are they are released from there. PFP decries this arbitrariness and demand the government to stop these illegal actions, as well as calls the local and international community to monitor the situation. FB users share and denounce the court hearing of Musavat activist Tofig Yagublu, the case of whom was based on slander and fake witnessing. His daughter report dramatic details of the court hearing, where again media or his close ones were not allowed to. The judge again did not satisfy request to present data from the location indicator device. She also reported that one of the “fake” witnesses refused to testify againt Yagublu. The next session will be on the 1st September.The activists share the report on the court hearing of the case of the detained human rights defender from Sumgayit Elchin Mammad, who was charged with “theft” and “illegal storage of weapons”. The confusing testifying of the fake witnesses proved that the case is political request. The next hearing is planned for 2nd September with the testifying of the policemen who were making searches in his office. People share the news from Turkey about death in prison after 238 days of hunger strike Ebru Timtik, who along with Aytaj Unsal was charged with membership in the armed terrorist group in 2018 and given 10 and 13 years imprisonment, and decry it with indignance. The FB community shares the interview of the Human Rights Watch representative Katherine Pilishvili to the Voice of America, where she decries the arrests and detentions of the activists in connection with the rally of the 14-15th of July, calling the charges totally absurd and fake. Jamil Hasanli reports that himself, Sevinj Osmangizi, Ali Karimli, PFP, and NCDF are targets of attack in the article by Ilham Aliyev, published in newspaper Ses under the title” Sevinj Osmangizi aggravates the divide within the opposition camp”. The article again contains blaming Soros, Armenian funding, foreign support, and even that Ali Karimli and Jamil Hasanli fund the Osmangizi TV. As money is the only motivation of authorities they cannot imagine that activities can be done for free. Ali Karimli quotes a lawyer Nazim Musayev, who remembers that currently the second time arrested PFP activist Mammad Ibrahim in early 2019 asked him not to push too much the fake witnesses who were also prisoners, as they might have consequences if they refuse testifying, or tell the truth. Ali Karimli in his video urges people not to participate in slander campaign against political activists, find forces to resist fake testifying. Ganimad Zahid in his interview asks Ali Karimli whether he anticipates and is protected from the possible similar attack on him as was the one on Navalny? He answers that he does not exclude it, as he was close to it in the 19 October 2019 rally and if such decision is adopted at the high level- he would not be able to protect himself. However, he considers it meaningless, as the role of leaders should not be exaggerated, because the mass and long lasting rallies in Khabarovsk and Belarus are taking place without leaders. Also, people of Azerbaijan are talented and have a lot of leadership potential, so removing one leader does not mean that he will not be replaced by another. He notes that in many states the changes and revolutions were made by people, not by leaders. Tofig Yagublu is quoted saying, that he is not a prisoner, but a captive.

ADR movement is calling the medical experts, doctors, to participate in the discussion related to the state and problems of the health system in the country.

The story of the hijacked girl of 17 years is shared on FB. Gunel Movlud blames Ministry of Interior, which stated that the girl ran away voluntarily to get married, that it justifies the crime of human hijacking. Achig Azerbaijan reports that distribution of the flats to the journalists in the third building is doubtful, as the audit started at the firm PORTOS Ltd  due to corruption during construction of the building. Natig Jafarli argues that the current system of customs should be eliminated and instead only two duties should be collected 1 % for the export and 10% for import with no right to increase it. He reports that since 2016 there were 400 amendments to the Tax Code. All this should be eliminated and only 4 categories should be left. He argues that simplification of the tax and custom system will lead to the reduction of the shadow economy and increase of transfers to the budget, positively influencing stability and development.

People discuss unfair distribution of pandemic aid 190 manats by the government by blocking the bank cards, if the recipient did not withdraw the amount immediately. They also discuss the extension of the quarantine for another month arguing the reasons are political. Gozel Bayramli comments, that while the statistics did not support this decision, the heads of regional executive power , so used to falsifying the election results, easily “ submitted” the “ right data”. She also predicts, that the compensation of 190 manats most probably and under various excuses will not be given  this month. The FB users also share the income of the government as a result of fining of citizens during the quarantine– 42 mln dollars. Gunel Safarova comments, that somebody should explain the MPs, that not everyone in the country has 2.500 manats monthly salary, 700 manats addition on holidays, and 5.000 manats for the summer break, besides the income from the numerous relatives who own business and properties, interest from the foreign businesses. “We are the nation, who was deprived of 190 manats, so leave your proposals about extension of quarantine to yourselves”, – she concludes. Commenting on the work of the state agency responsible for struggle with pandemic, prof. Jamil Hasanli said:” The Operative Headquarters adopt decisions operatively leading the country to the abyss. These decisions serve not protection of the people from virus, but the government -from the people.”  Activist argue that the pandemic is “sent from heavens” to the government, who is using it to legitimise control over its opponents, benefit financially by means of monopolies and collection fines,

The FB community continues to comment on the controversial measure which lowered the cost of the individually brought or requested via internet items which is free of customs duty. They urge to bring it back to the 1,000 $ and also report exceedingly high price of sending items via Ali Express to Azerbaijan as 104,36 US $ , while free from charge to Armenia, 31, 16 $ to Georgia, 3.16 $ to Ukraine. They also quote extremely high customs duties for any item brought from abroad, such as cars, which exceed the price of the item itself 2 times. Altay Geyushov argues, that stripping the citizens  is even more profitable source of income for oligarchs, than oil, and that they enrich by robbing the citizens by means of  inflated customs and other. He also notes, that’s why they do not want to become member of WTO, as it will deprive them of this way of enrichment. Natig Jafarli

denounces the argument of the authorities, that by lowering the cost of free from customs duty items they increase the income of the budget. He argues, that if they were sincere, they would stop protecting monopolists, and return to the earlier decision of the Cabinet of Ministers to allow items from 1000 to 10,000 dollars and stimulate development of the small business.

FB community continues to discuss the punishment of the former “ grey cardinal” Ramiz Mehdiyev and his responses to it. Many confirm again, that this is “not the struggle between the good and bad clans , or bad and very bad clans, but the struggle between the two very bad ones”. Gultakin Hajibeyli writes about the irony of official media connecting the wedding party of Ramiz Mehdiyev taken place at his own dacha to the ISIS and Al Qaeda’ threat to the world. She reminds that she became subjected to the continues persecution since 2010 after she refused to participate in the slander campaign against Adnan Hajizade, Emin Milli and Eynulla Fatullayev and other campaigns which they tried to involve her in. She argues that most probably her  pro-Turkish position has contributed to this “ crime”. She comments, that it was Ramiz Mehdiyev led repressive machine which sent the flag of ISIS to one of the rallies of the National Council of Democratic Forces and stresses the irony of the current official media connecting of the wedding to the ISIS threat. The FB community discusses the rumours about resignation of the ombudswoman, who was videoed dancing at the wedding party of Ramiz Mehdiyev’s grandchild. They share an information about the cost of her dress by Valentino, jewellery  by Damiani, coming up to 40 thousand manat, which is incomparable to her official salary.

The FB users share and comment on the news that Doing Business rating by the World Bank was based on falsified data of a few countries, including Azerbaijan. Sevinj Osmangizi dedicates a  few of her TV programs to this topic. Altay Geyushov reports that population has been surprised already for many years by  progressing rating of Azerbaijan, which they found contradicting the observed reality.He argues that similar to this, when the Council of Europe was concluding that the next elections were another step towards democracy, people thought they are either naive or pulling people’s legs. In the end, they disclosed that Azerbaijan was bribing CoE. But they have already made their contribution to the transformation of the country in the feudal state.” Now the WB says, that Azerbaijan was deceiving us and was providing for fake data. But the latter was such an obvious thing, that it is hard to believe that WB has been naïve”, so he thinks, that both CoE and WB knew that data was fake, but simply promoted building of absolute monarchy in the country, not being able to declare it openly. He asks the question, whether both of these organizations acknowledge their mistakes, or this is just a tactical move to continue support of feudal state in Azerbaijan?

FB community discusses the continuation of the quarantine for another month until the end of September, as well as unprofessional decisions of the Operative Headquarters. In particular, they discuss the absurdity of closing the metro, limiting the public transportation reducing it to 10-15 buses, thus causing greater crowing and threat to the health of citizens, instead of opening the metro and increasing the usual number of buses and trains, just making mandatory wearing masks. They ironically comment on the statement by the president’s assistant  Hikmet Hajiyev that he has not seen his parents since March month, who live in Ganja city, quoting one comment under his video , that “Hikmat the taxi drivers take there for 60-70 manats from Shamakhinka district of the capital.”

FB community discuss the budget for 2020. Gubad Ibadoglu reports, that the new budget has 2 mln 890 thousand 843 manat allocated for Ombudsman office. He also comments that the biggest amount of resources to the Presidential Reserve Fund in the last 15 years is allocated this year – total transfer to various reserve funds increased by 72,5% with main part of it to the Presidential Fund, which has increased in 1,6 times. Because the lines of expenditures are not specified in the budget where will this 690 mn manat be spent will be known only after the president’s and prime minister’s decrees are issued. Ibadoglu also mentions that the study among 22 states of South East Europe and Central Asia regions showed that the Presidential Reserve Fund exists only in Azerbaijan and was created in 2006. In 2020 its share is 2% of the budget.

September 1, 2020