Center for National and International Studies
The FB has been dominated by sentence of 4 years of imprisonment passed at the court hearing of the case of activist of Musavat party and National Council of Democratic Forces Tofig Yagublu. Media, NGOs, political parties came out with statements decrying the sentence to Yagublu who was only recently released from his long term imprisonment for “stirring disorder” In Ismayilli region in 2013. The FB community is also discussing the introduction of the common tariffs on taxis, viewing it as an attempt to monopolize by the government yet another sphere of economy and undermining small business. They discuss the fact of registration of REAL party led by Ilgar Mammadov along with the pro-government opposition in the parliament Razi Nurullayev, and the situation around “grey cardinal” Ramiz Mehdiyev. The activists continue to closely monitor the events in Belarus.
The FB community shares with indignation and denounces news about sentence of 4 years 3 months in the strict security regime cell to the activist Tofig Yagublu. His daughter reported that the court refused to present the data from the street cameras, private telephones and other, which is a proof that the case of Yagublu was made up. She called this court case “the political revenge” against her father. Nobody was allowed even in the courtyard of the Court. They share news that he started a hunger strike a day before announcement of his sentence. Hezi Bey, the journalist, writes, that while being innocent Tofig Yagublu spent already many years in prison and now got another term for a few years. He warns the authorities against this extreme injustice and comments that there is an ultimate end to any oppression and injustice. People share slogan and hashtag Freedom to Yagublu in the campaign in FB, as well as the names of the fake witnesses in Tofig Yagublu case- Javahir and Elkhan Jabrailovs- in “ naming and shaming” campaign. The post also reflect the images from the action in front of the court of activists protesting unjust indictment of Tofig Yagublu, who is widely viewed as decent and heroic leader. Jamil Hasanli of NCDF explains this mercilessness to Tofig Yagublu by his resistance to compromise in relations with the authorities: he did not leave politics, as they wanted him, did not leave the NCDF, did not distance from Ali Karimli, did not stop criticizing Ilham Aliyev, and refused the rewards in exchange for a compromise. Hence the revenge- concludes Hasanli. Gunel Safarova reports that the brother of an investigator in the Tofig Yagublu case was a policeman, who killed his wife – the mother of 3 underage children with special cruelty, and this is type of people the system uses. Ali Karimli of PFP states that while the sentence was read by the judge, Tofig Yagublu in fact was arrested by the president Ilham Aliyev. Ramis Yunus calls Tofig Yagublu the a symbol of honor and dignity, and conscience of people, who fought on Karabagh front and became a national hero. He concludes that there might not be future for the country, which tolerates such injustice.
Achig Azerbaijan reports who of the journalists and why they were getting free flats from the president, commenting that Azerbaijan is the only country in the world, where the journalists get free apartments from the state. The decree about granting flats for journalists was adopted in 2010 and the first building was completed in 2013 for 22 mln manats, while the second cost 40 mln manat, while the third one is still not comissioned due to the corruption of PORTOS company, which was formed in 2009, and “won” the tender already in 2010 for the construction of all three buildings. The experts consider it a way of co-opting journalists by the authorities.
The FB community discusses the issue of introduction of the common tariffs for the taxis, denouncing the measure and perceiving it as a way to capture another sphere of economic activities. The concept of the Baku Transport Agency included creation of the common dispatcher centre, establishment of the common tariffs and quotas. The economic expert Samir Aliyev explains the situation: “ This was one of the few areas, where the high competition was taking place and as a result the prices fell down. Instead of protecting this competition, the state first entered the market with its own company, then financed the provision of this company by the updated imported models of the taxis, and now by introducing new regulations wants to strengthen this company’s position in the market. If the provisions of the Concept will be implemented the number of taxi companies will be reduced significantly and there will be only the state company left and at best a few more. As a result of reduced competition the prices will increase tremendously without visible improvement of service. Ulvi Hasanli directly writes, that “ there was only one independent economic area left –the taxis, and now they have monopolized it too”. People also widely comment on the statement by Baku Transport Agency official Hikmet Babayev, justifying the new measure, that taxi as a transport “should not be turned to the affordable by every citizen”. The lawyer Alasgar Mammadli proves that this statement contradicts a few articles of the Constitution of the republic, including the preamble, which states that the Constitution and the state were created to provide for the dignified life of every citizen. He quotes other articles such as 15, 16 and also the number of the decree and laws of the Republic, which the recent measure on taxi tariffs violates. The subject of discussion is also open despise to people, treatment them as a “ herd” who does not deserve decent standards of living. Sevinc Osmangizi TV broadcasted a programme entitled:” The taxi is not for the poor, or whether Aliyev is a shareholder of the taxi business?”.
Ganimad Zahid, a journalist in exile, in his programme 24 hours comments, that the story with Ramiz Mehdiyev proved that there is no such a thing as clans, as whichever distinguishing values including conscience various groups in the government had, they left them hostage in exchange for material awards. He stresses, that these awards are not even given them forever in full ownership and can be taken any moment as a punishment in perceived disloyalty. He argues that there are no clans, as there are not strong personalities among them, and they are vulnerable to the pressure of the ruling family. Habib Muntazir quoting last writing by Ramiz Mehdiyev suggests jokingly that he seems to form a new opposition party, whose name will be – The Elitist Alliance of Academics in Opposition (AMEA -is the abbreviation of the National Academy of Sciences- L.A). Hikmet Hajizade, democracy activists and former ambassador to Russia, speaks sceptically about reforms, which mainly are expressed in replacement of cadres, but do not promote free market or new governance.
The topic of pandemic and resulting social issues are also widely discussed. Ilkin Muradov argues, that this is disgraceful to fine 200 manats a worker, who earns 15-20 manats per day, and then the earning of 10 days is taken away by the police. The FB users ask the question about multimillion private investments in the ongoing projects in Azerbaijan during the paralysis of economy under pandemic. They report such projects as Nardaran holiday complex, owned by Araz Agalarov and wonder why he did not render any help or aid to Azerbaijani businessmen, or other affected categories of population. Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR comments: “ or Azerbaijan is just the source of income for them?”. Gultakin Hajibeyli commemorates the date of death of the oil magnate of the 19th century, a philanthropist Taghiyev and comments, that 100 years after the absence of the private benefactors is explained by monopoly of this area by the president’s family. Sevinj Osmangizi discusses with the ambassador in exile Arif Mammadov whether the new composition of the Commission on Fight with corruption makes any difference. He argues that it does not, as there is no s single independent person in the commission, but only officials, who are at the top of the corruption pyramid. Gubad Ibadoglu analyses the budget of the State Oil Fund and reveals number of controversies, among them- against the background of fall of the total income 3 times, income from the foreign currency assets by 62,2% etc. the Fund’s management expenses increase from 5,5 mln manat to 30 mln manat. The activists, experts and journalists continue to discuss the scandal with fake data and ratings of the country in economic and other areas. After the disclosure of the usage of fake data in Doing Business Report of the World Bank the activists predict the similar discrediting of the rating in Sustainable Development Report -2020, where Azerbaijan occupies high rating of 54 of 166 countries, being ahead of Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Armenia etc. Jamil Hasanli argues that this happened thanks to the positive twitters of REAL and spread of the photos of the WHO representative in Azerbaijan Hande Harmanchi at the holidays in Leze spa center. The high rating of the country reflects “ high standards of health system”, high social prosperity, minimum poverty, clean tap water etc. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev the youth activist attracts attention to the recent death of the passer by, who died by stumbling at the cement blocks and being cut by the iron reinforcement lying on top of cement blocks and calls him a victim of the unprofessional and poor governance of the country.
FB community continues to discuss events in Belarus. It appraises the US threatening Russia because of Belarus. Ali Karimli writes, that the high level American official said to the Reuters, that if Russia intervenes in Belarus, the US will apply sanctions to Russia. The deputy foreign minister of Russia Sergey Ryabkov replied that Russia does not intervene in the internal affairs of Belarus and treats with respect the right of Belarus people to resolve their issues themselves. He praises the sanctions against Lukashenka and his ministers by Europe already, and suggests that it will be followed by the US. Karimli argues that the people’s protests are widening, but Lukashenka tries to suppress it with force, which is wrong, as it will only aggravate people’s hatred to himself. He concludes that Belarus events prove, that when time comes, hundreds of thousands Azerbaijani will also flow to the squares.
People with great irony share the news, that “ parliamentary” parties by Razi Nurullayev– Party of the National Front and Ilgar Mammadov ‘s “REAL” were registered y the authorities and that they will “sit at the same table”. The ADR movement leader Gubad Ibadoglu reports ongoing work on transformation of the movement into a political party and states, that while it unites all categories of population, the leading role belongs to the youth. The FB users are ironic about the statement by Erkin Gadirli of REAL that Tofig Yagublu cursed him. They also urge him, if he agreed to the mandate to serve the people, as MP to visit the detention places and prisons where the political prisoners are serving their terms. Ilgar Mammadov reported the meeting with the French Ambassador to Azerbaijan Zachari Groches congratulating him with the registration of the party.
FB community- activists, journalists– share posts about Karabagh. They commemorate the date of capture of Gubadli and other regions. They speak about unacceptably long period of occupation- 27 years and blame the authorities, who instead of resolving the situation – are storing resources on their off shore accounts. They also share the photo of the Armenian president Pashinian’s wife who in the military uniform participates in the exercises on the occupied Azerbaijan territory.
The pro-government FB users quote the president’s statement at the meeting with Greek ambassador to Azerbaijan, that Azerbaijan will always support the position of Turkey and comment that earlier the similar direct message was sent to Russia, they conclude that the era of diplomatic language is over and now the time for direct and open messages has come. However, on the issue of the BTA official statement about taxis and citizens YAP functionary and MP Aydin Mirza-zade expressed critical opinion and supported free competition in this area. The opposition leader Panah Huseyn also supported the statement of Aliyev at the meeting with the Greek ambassador.They also report the new concept of E-democracy, and IT role which is in the center of attention of president Aliyev. Because 80% of population is using internet, the possibilities for participatory democracy extended through internet. President Aliyev issued a decree creating a system where anyone can file a complaint on condition public transport, or infrastructure by appealing to ASAN service. By this system the citizen is entrusted a significant monitoring function and increases its influence in decision making. This platform they argue opened the new stage of joint governance of the citizen and government philosophy, which in turn will be an important step in creation of E-democracy. They also report the ZOOM conference” The address of charity and compassion is Mehriban Aliyeva”.
September 4, 2020