February 7, 2021

On February 1, in an interview with Azerbaijani television, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev criticized a number of high-ranking officials, including the leaders of such structures as the Central Bank, Azeravtoyol, AZAL, the State Customs Committee, the State Border Service, and the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The head of state warned the heads of state structures wishing to open their branch in Shusha.“What do you care about Shusha?! You want to come, settle down, and build a residence at the expense of the state. They want to have a residence in Shusha too. Sometimes I do not tell the citizens about this, so that they do not disdain, I apologize for the expression, but my patience is running out. I say this so that both citizens and officials know. Let the officials know their place and go about their business. I declared Shusha the capital of culture, not the capital of officials. Therefore, let them sit in their place, do business and do not irritate me. “One of the interesting events recently are high-profile arrests all over the country. After the arrest of Rasim Mammadov, an oligarch who created a metal monopoly, relying on high-ranking officials, the former Minister of Labor and Social Protection Salim Muslimov was also arrested.Political commentator Arastun Orujlu shared his opinion with ASTNA on what is happening in the country.


– In an interview with AzTV President Ilham Aliyev named many officials and criticized them. For the first time, we heard from the head of state such targeted, criticism directed at officials, whom he called by name. What do you think is going on? It turns out that the president is also dissatisfied with the officials appointed by him. Firstly, I would like to note that the motives and purpose of the targeted criticism voiced in that speech by Ilham Aliyev were not entirely clear, but it was clear that certain serious events were taking place within the government. Apparently, since these events threatened his personal authority, Ilham Aliyev suddenly made such a statement, which was aimed at discrediting a large number of his team members in the eyes of the people and even threatened them. If to believe the words of Ilham Aliyev, there is an interesting detail – the heads of these structures, listed by the president, are also ministers and officials of various branches of government.


It turns out that within the government, persons belonging to various groups and interests are dissatisfied with some decisions or steps of Ilham Aliyev, and express dissatisfaction in different forms. The fact that the head of state links this discontent with the desire to open a regional center in Shusha, in turn, clarifies a number of issues. Because, according to the logic of things, for more than 3 months in the liberated from the occupation Shusha should have opened local structures of ministries, state committees and companies. Firstly, because, unlike other destroyed territories, Kalbajar, Khadrut and Shusha have the necessary minimum conditions; and secondly, Shusha is the most strategically important point of the Karabakh region and, therefore, its settlement should be carried out quickly. However, here we exactly see everything opposite; we also understand that he himself is an obstacle. Of course, Ilham Aliyev’s argument on this matter sounded very frivolous. I do not mean the fact that the vital city has been declared a “cultural capital”. It turns out that there are external factors that hinder the settlement of these settlements. If to believe the president, it turns out that the officials know about this and actually threaten him. Of course, the reason for the threat is not in Shusha.


-There is an opinion that the president used this method in order to avoid popular discontent amid recent increases in prices for some products. He wants to distract attention by criticizing officials. How convincing are these arguments?


-If this is so, then we can say with great confidence that such arguments are did not give the expected effect, and even caused the opposite effect, since the absolute majority of judgments on this issue were not in favor of Ilham Aliyev. Our monitoring on social networks showed that the well-known speech squandered part of the political capital that Ilham Aliyev acquired during the 44-day war, and began to lose after the signing of the Statement on November 10, 2020. One of the counter-effects, as I mentioned above, is the reveal of serious contradictions within the government. Earlier only a number of politicians, journalists and experts could see it, but now the whole society have seen it, and people began to look for a reason that unites those listed officials who are not closely related to each other.


As for the difficult socio-economic situation in the country, It will be impossible to distract attention from difficult socio-economic situation in the country by some populist statements, dismissals and even high-profile arrests. There are two possible answers to the question “Will there be bread?” – either “Yes” or “No”.


– It is expected that the officials named by the president will be punished in the near future. Is this a naive approach or are such steps expected?


-Someone may be punished, but to look at the issue from a broader perspective, then I think in the near future we will witness a serious political crisis. Observing and analyzing the steps taken and the statements made, will inevitably bring to a terrible conclusion: the country’s authorities either do not understand or purposefully deny what is happening. What happens is that this is no longer the country that it was 3 months ago. Maybe you are also skeptical about my opinion, but the country has really changed. The 44-day war and its successful results, achieved before November 10, created a new atmosphere in the country, a new social and political reality. True, now many argue that there is nothing, everything is back on track, etc.


Of course, someone might think so. But the fact that representatives of the authorities think so is a real tragedy and this is precisely what is visible. It is deceiving that these changes are still in a latent phase, and this phase gives the authorities the opportunity and chances to take the necessary steps. When the changes go into the open phase, it will be too late, and the country will either be dragged into a palace coup, or chaos, or will face some larger adventurers. But instead of taking any effective steps, we see disputes, disagreements, appropriations, deepening the crisis even more. In addition, at almost all levels, officials demonstrate a more rude attitude than before towards the people and their army, which fought for their country. And this is a game with fire.


-For example, Rasim Mammadov, one of the oligarchs who runs the big business of a senior government official, was arrested. In addition, there was official news about the arrest of the former Minister of Labor and Social Protection Salim Muslimov. What do you think is the reason for these arrests? And why are these arrests taking place now? Why, despite very serious facts against both persons, no action was taken at that time?


– In fact, some of these persons, as you have already noted, should have been arrested long ago, but it has long been known that such arrests usually serve one of two purposes: either the need to take away the wealth accumulated by the thieves’ method, or this is a requirement of the political environment … I think that in both cases, these goals completely coincided, and it looked like a kind of intimidation measure. However, the effect of such arrests for the purpose of intimidation is much lower than expected, since the public views such arrests as internal “showdowns”, and officials know their true cause. The main reason for the current arrests, I think, is primarily in the division of property. It was decided to concentrate property in the country once and for all in the same hands, but against the background of all this struggle, the country’s population is rapidly becoming poorer, and the socio-economic situation is deteriorating. Such dynamics can create a situation where tomorrow it will no longer matter who will control the property.


– An interesting question arises. Who is next? Whose arrest can we witness in the coming days? What are the reasons and goals of this process?


-Along with the concentration of wealth in the same hands, there is a complete centralization of political power, which in itself is more dangerous than economic decentralization. Outside of the bogus theories that serve dictatorships, any political theory states that there is an inverse proportionality between the centralization of power and its effectiveness. In fact, this is also observed in Azerbaijan. For example, the effectiveness of government today is lower than 5 years ago. But there seems to be no desire to get out of this path: a puppet government, a puppet parliament, puppet courts, a puppet civil society, the media and even the opposition gathered in one building actually means the destruction of elements of the political system. And the political system is an institutional single organism, figuratively speaking, each of its organs must perform a corresponding function. Just as the failure of one organ does not allow the body to perform its functions, the failure of one of the institutions seriously disrupts the work of the political system. And in our case the talk is about the failure of almost all institutions. It turns out that all the organs have died, but we persistently insist that the body is alive, living and functioning. Therefore, regardless of the purpose of the process, I think the result is bankruptcy, and it is fast approaching.


– Finally, what conclusion can be made from what happened? What political and intra-government processes are expected in the country in the near future?


– Deepening economic recession, growing social tensions, political crisis and, ultimately, internal rotation, undertaken to save power, but with the opposite result. But there is also an external or international factor, which we have not yet touched upon, but which has a rather strong influence, and any of its intervention can cause the most unpredictable consequences. Although I think that hoping for the possibility of something unexpected in a country that is in our position is in itself wrong. You need to be prepared for anything, especially during a period of rapid change in the world order. And what is still observed is the destruction of the old order, which means that we are not even at the beginning of the path.


Source: Turan News Agency

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