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Center for National and International Studies





Nobody wants war. People want their homes. Go to your own home, Armenian army!”….

The central topic of FB is the unfolding war on the Armenia-Azerbaijan front. The FB users share the summary of the explanation of the substance of Karabagh conflict, including that the war is waged on the territory of Azerbaijan, greet the volunteers and give moral support to the army. They also share an information about regaining control of the villages and towns, report losses and share photos of young people killed in the battles. While majority greet the liberation of their homelands, some young activists are critical of groups who did not denounce the war. FB community also closely follows the Court of Appeals hearing of the case of the opposition leader Tofig Yagublu, discusses the speech of the president Aliyev  at the 75 session of the UN General Assembly, the meeting of the speaker of the Azerbaijan parliament with the Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov, the corruption of bureaucrats and poor governance.

The FB pages are dominated by the news about war with Armenia.  Ali Karimli in his interview to Osmangizi responded to her question who benefits from the big war. He argues, that it depends not only on Azerbaijan and Armenia, but on Russia and the West. The anti-war attitude is openly stated only by the West. Armenia’s position although officially is not different, but in reality they prepare to the big war, drafting the people’s army, bring some armed groups to the NK, making aggressive statements about non-return even of surrounding  territories. Armenian generals declare specific dates of the military operations this fall. The Armenian unmanned aircraft, which was shot by Azerbaijani forces,  reached even Shamkir region. Russia from the very first days of the war directly participated in it and now it is getting more active- it is beneficial for Russia too, who had big military exercises with participation of Armenia army. Russian Lavrov’s suggestion return of 5 regions, and bringing peacekeeping Russian forces is absolutely unacceptable for Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan- is not interested in the big war. The attack in Tovuz by Armenians was a unique excuse for Baku to start a big war and get back lands, but it did not do it. So the West is not interested in a big war, Azerbaijan’s position is not clear, but Armenia and Russia are interested. So regardless of Azerbaijan, there is a high probability of war. While the pick up expropriation is made with a lot of violations of law, people are not resisting, ready to help the army. But it is the government should be prepared for the war, not the people. Armenia has changed its strategy from the defensive to offensive, including the type of weapons. Azerbaijan people, he argues, should be prepared for a big war. Many FB users express their feelings and comments in relations to the war. The journalist Khadija Ismayil wrote: “Nobody wants war. People want their homes. Go to your own home, Armenian Army”. She also denounces the detention of youth activist Giyas Ibrahimov by the State Security Services for his criticism of the military actions, arguing that detention of people for their pacifist position is illegal. Some people comment, that the government which hardly pays 190 manats to its citizens after 6 months of unemployment and absence of income, cannot win the war. The country should have waged the war, when the oil billions were pouring in the country, but then officials were busy transferring them into the offshore accounts. The journalists report from the front line, that while Azerbaijani army hits military targets, Armenian army  targets civilians, it is reported that the family of 5 people were killed in the village, including two underage children. Some Fb users tell that already having plaid the game two times they should beware of the third time, as it may explode. The others warn about the Turkish news channel Haber Global which is financed by the SOCAR and should not be taken too seriously. Some paint the image of the average citizen, who does not get involved in politics, but joins the choir of criticism of Pashinian, Sarkisian as it is safe. Natig Jafarli of REAL disagrees  with  critique of siding of some opposition forces with the official position on Karabagh issue. The former adviser to president Heydar Aliyev, who later resigned in protest to the plan of the Karabagh resolution ( exchange of territories) gave an inreview to the newspaper Yeni Musavat about the armed clashes on the border, and the situation in Karabagh. He stressed that since early days of conflict the Armenian trained armed groups and ASALA terrorists from the Middle East, USA, Europe all were fighting in Karabagh, so the widely advertised resettlement of the Armenians from Lebanon serves just to cover up arrival of terrorist groups who will fight in the Karabagh war. He stressed big role of Turkey in changing geopolitical balance in the region against background of inaptness of Minsk group of OSCE. He argues that real negotiations are taking place in triangular – Baku-Moscow-Yerevan.This format is not beneficial for Azerbaijan because one side of the triangular occupied Azerbaijani lands, while the other renders the occupant military help, so it is not worth sparing time on this format. He considers that involvement of Turkey will turn the triangular into a square and can totally neutralize the factor of Russia. He argues, that drafting the Azerbaijani volunteers may be sufficient to win the war, of Russia factor is neutralized by Turkey. He quoted the president who said that if Armenian party will continue to provoke on the state borders and will not withdraw the troops from the occupied territories-the Azerbaijan party also has a right to claim its historical territories. The FB users actively criticise and denounce the Azerbaijani Parliament’s speaker submissive behaviour at the meeting with Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov. Altay Geyushov comments that the problem is  not her behaviour, but the fact that the MPs are not elected by people, thus when they will be elected they will not bend over to Lavrov, as they will be accountable to the constituency.

FB community discuss and interpret  Russia’s behaviour in the eve of the resumption of hostilities. Seymur Hezi deputy leader of PFP and a journalist, comments that Russia plays a game again with the purpose of preserving its control over two conflicting parties. On the one hand it militarily encourages Armenia ( the violation of ceasefire recently takes place away from Karabagh front) – on the other suggests the Madrid principles with the return of 5 regions to Azerbaijan.

Activists, journalists and bloggers continue to react to the issue of human rights and share the statement of the NCDF against tortures in the country. The statement reports systematic tortures against detained activists, which were arrested on the trumped up charges by the government which was taking an advantage of the COVID pandemic.  The statement names the PFP activists Agil Mahharamli and Zamin Salayev who were tortured recently and other leaders of the opposition such as Ali Karimli, Ibrahim Ibrahimli, Tofig Yagublu. It appeals to the international organizations such as European Committee on Tortures, respective agencies of the UN, EU, the US and the whole civilized world to demand the Azerbaijani governments’ to stop the turned into a state policy practice of tortures. It also call the Azerbaijani society to raise its voice against practice of tortures, as well as reminds the government that tortures is a crime against humanity with no limitation period, and all to blame will be held responsible. The FB community shares the news from the Court of Appeal hearing of opposition leader Tofig Yagublu’s case. Osmangizi TV broadcasts the interview with the human rights defender Leyla Yunus, who explains why the list of the political prisoners in the country is not reducing. Ali Karimli raises the issue of punishment of one of the rare remaining independent lawyers Elchin Sadyghov by the National Bar Association prohibiting his private activities as a defence attorney. Elchin Sadygov protested by posting his photo with the mouth glued by a duct tape. The activists comment that with the appointment of the young person as the head of the Bar Association the pressure on independent lawyers not only reduced but even increased. Tofig Yagublu made an appeal to the Belarus opposition, where he mentioned that he devoted his hunger strike to the courageous struggle of Belarus people. He expressed the high solidarity of Azerbaijani democratic community, civil society, opposition, journalists, activists with Belarus people and asked them to mention struggle of Azerbaijani people too when passing the message to the Western community. The FB community shares the announcement of the US embassy that in connection with the hostilities on the border with Armenia, it calls its citizens not to move beyond the Absheron peninsula.Popular Front Party Board made a statement protesting another attempt of slander campaign against the party and bringing clarity to the issue. The authorities leaked the whatsapp conversation between the party leader and the deputy chair of the Supreme Majlis of the party Irada Nariman about decision to exclude a member Aydin Aliyev from the party.

Economic experts analyse the statistics presented by the president  in his speech at the 75 session of the UN General Assembly, which do not correspond to the one published by the State Statistics Committee, both in the area of medical capacity and economic aid. Gubad Ibadoglu of ADR advocates for  inclusion of the child benefits in the new budget which were cancelled in 2006.He also urges the government to invest in technical equipment – computers, planchets etc. for the families with low income, as their price increases significantly in the eve of the beginning of the school and university term. He quotes statistics that of 1,6 mln pupils 1,3 mln live in the regions and have great difficulties in access to the technical devices required for online education. He concludes that it looks like the elite is not interested in educated population because there are enough resources for this purpose. He comments on various state awards which the president gave to a number of professors of the Economic Academy, stressing the an ward to the former vice-rector discredits these awards, as corruption and incompetence flourished during that rule. He also addresses the issue of the work State Customs Committee, which has the greatest number of complaints from the entrepreneurs due to poor governance. For instance they artificially inflate the price of the imported item, so to charge duties.

The issue of corruption of bureaucrats is again on agenda. Habib Muntazir continues to disclose the illegal property of the ex-head of presidential administration and currently the president of the Academy of Sciences Ramiz Mehdiyev in Gusar region 3 storey villas and a swimming pool, and in Novkhani near Baku  a “palace” on 155 hectares land. He also posts the list of the expansive cars under the state plate numbers which belong to the young sons of the deputy head of executive power of Barda region Ilham Mammadov:  Range rover, Mercedes AMG S65, Mercedes S500, Toyota Camry etc. He compares the luxury of the low level bureaucrat with 190 manats of state aid to the ordinary citizens.He continues to react to the visit of president Aliyev and his wife- vice-president to the village Balakhani near Baku and attracts the attention to the amount of police and limitations of people’s movement. The photo of the Chanelle purse of vice-president Mehriban Aliyeva, which  is 3,500 dollars worth, has been circulating social networks. They remind that the official salary of hers is 8,475 manat, but she donated her annual salary to the coronavirus fund. The readers suggest that she gives an income report to the public, where the resources are coming from. Khadija Ismayil reports the conflict of interests issue in case of MP Adil Aliyev, who was inquired the source of his enormous property, as before he became MP he worked in the police. People joke about the obstacles created by customs in Azerbaijan. One FB user quotes Trump who boasted that entering Iran is not a problem for the US, and comments- if you have courage- come and try to enter Iran through Bilasuvar ( region of Azerbaijan- L.A.) customs. Activists  again the discuss the decree, which lowered the price of the brought in the country duty free items. ( from 1000 dollars to 300 dollars monthly) They argue that not only the customers and individual citizens are negatively affected, but also private independent entrepreneurs. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev argues that independent businessmen should unite and coordinate their actions to have public support, instead of being afraid to politicise the issue . He also reports numerous difficulties which the citizens face while filling the forms related to the customs duty in the e-system of ASAN service, such as requirement to write or read in English He suggests to change the name of the Agency which is translated as “easy “ ( asan) cusoms  service  into the “hard” ( chetin) customs service.

FB community reacts with shock  and irony the nomination of Trump, Allah Shukur Pashazade  ( the chair of the Muslims of the Caucasus organization)  and Putin to the Nobel Peace Prize. One comments on these news: “ We are approaching the end of the world” They also comment on the issue of education in Russian language. Khadija Ismayil considers that timely opening of KGB archives and lustration   would prevent this problem.

September 29, 2020