Regime applies a red herring

friday 08 november 2013 at 23h39

Categories : Politics, Economics

Immediately after the presidential elections in Azerbaijan, and the third inauguration of the President Ilham Aliyev, the regime’s repressive machine was immediately brought into action.

Trials on civil society activists prepared before the election, took start in the first days of November, and in line with the planes of the  campaign’s authors, the trials immediately overshadowed the subject of elections, and even news about the upcoming increase of utility prices.

The authorities said that the start of trials is not associated with the post-election situation, and the completion of  investigation against the accused is merely coincidence.

The exception is only filing a lawsuit against the local Election Monitoring and Democratic Studies Center (EMDS), the results of which did not coincide with the official data on the progress and results of the vote.

These arguments could be taken at face value, but there is one more thing: all defendants are related to the pre-election period   due to sharp criticism of the authorities. The only exception is the beginning of the trial in the case of Guler Ahmadova, a former prominent figure in the ruling party "Yeni Azerbaijan" who tarnished the names of her colleagues in the criminal scandal on selling deputy seats.

Public attention moved from the topic of unclean election to the trials in the cases of:

1. seven activists of NIDA Movement, and a member of the "Free Youth" Movement, Ilkin Rustamzade;

2 . the accused  of the events in  Ismailli region, the head of the REAL Movement Ilgar Mammadov and deputy chairman of the Musavat party, Tofig Yagublu ,

3. Thale Bagirzade  -theologian;

4. editor of  the PS.Nota newspaper and website http://www.psnota.com, Sardar Alibeyli;

5. editor in chief  of the site azadxeber.org , Nijat Aliyev, and nine other believers

6. "Azadlig" newspaper , as well as:

7. restriction of the sales of opposition newspapers;

8. filing a lawsuit against the Election Monitoring and Democratic Studies Center (EMDS);

 9.  Audits in the private publishing house "Qanun." 

Practice of previous post-election situations in Azerbaijan shows that the  harassment of civil society activists , journalists and politicians was standard practice expected for the current situation. An example is the persecution and arrest of a candidate Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, and prosecutions of newspapers "Azadlig" and "Yeni Musavat " immediately after the elections in 2010.

By such repressive  actions 

  The essence of the authoritarian regime, of course, prompts that repression will be long-term, as an integral part of suppression of society and controlling it. But post-election, an unprecedented negative assessment of the situation by the USA and its Western allies, and their calls to fulfill obligations restrict such plans by the authorities.

the authorities want to reach a number of goals and objectives:

1. to distract  public attention from a post-election analysis of the situation and closing of the topic;

2. bring fear and hopelessness;

3. make society accept the election results;

4. demonstrate strength and confidence;

5. punish opponents;

6. create a new base of political prisoners in order to further bargaining with international institutions: a prisoner in exchange for giving up the pressure on reform and democratization.

7. to make  the international institutions such as the OSCE , the European Parliament , understand that the government is ready for a confrontation and adamant .

Usually, such a tactic by authorities worked, and all the emphasis of the regime’s relations  with civil society and the international community transferred to the problem of political prisoners, and first of all,  such high-profile political figures like  Eynulla Fatullayev, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev. All the international institutions and forces joined this post-election battle for the liberation of the prisoners, overshadowing the democratization of the country. To tell the truth, they joined the  game with much pleasure, because it allowed the international institutions to get out of the post-election situation with the surviving entity.

Society wonders whether the repressions are long-term or  short-term for the country. The essence of the authoritarian regime, of course, prompts that repression will be long-term, as an integral part of suppression  of society and controlling it. But post-election, an unprecedented  negative assessment of the situation by the USA and its Western allies, and their calls  to fulfill  obligations  restrict such plans by the authorities. In addition, the situation  has aggravated by the migration pressure from Russia, where the central target of Russian nationalists  have become natives of Azerbaijan  due to the incident in Biryulyovo.

Under such a situation, Aliyev will be forced, to some extent, to take into account the criticism of Western partners, and at the summit of the Eastern Partnership in Vilnius assure them of the European choice.

Unfavorable  oil trend, expressed in the fall of production and prices, and excessive internal constraint of economic activity, will also be contributing factors limiting the repressive actions of the regime for a long-term.

Turan Analytical Service