BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV
In the heart of Moscow, just a few steps away from the Kremlin and the State Duma, in the lower part of the ancient Neglinnaya street, the building of the Ararat hotel rises as majestically, as lonely and absurdly. The ultra-modern architecture of this grandiose ensemble comes in sharp contrast to the historical and intact to this day, inviolable centre of the Russian capital.
Every day, well-known statesmen of the great power revived from historical ashes, leaving their offices behind the tarnished by epochal victories and defeats walls of the ancient Moscow Kremlin, involuntarily cast a look at the symbolic Ararat, built on the ruins of Moscow's old Armenian district. Russian Armenians, like the Jews in the medieval Caliphate of Andalusia, tried to stay closer to the castles and palaces of the rulers, where there was being determined not only historical fate, but the fate of history itself.
Vicious agitprop near the Kremlin
This suggests an allegory: the contrast of modern architecture with the historical heritage of the centre of Moscow is comparable to the policies of the Armenian lobby near the Kremlin walls so defective for the Russian authorities.
One of the cynical and infamous members of this mired in corruption and political intricacies lobby is well-known in the former Soviet Union Konstantin Zatulin. Son of a chekist in the sunny Soviet Adjara, a graduate of Yeltsin's grey eminence Shakhray, Zatulin positions himself as a respectable director of the Institute of CIS Countries, taking on the mission of an adept of violent separatism and a preacher of the now popular in certain Russian circles sham theory of 'buffer separatist security zone' on all the frontiers of the vast country.
Zatulin was blacklisted by all CIS countries affected in their natural right to ancestral territorial integrity. He advocated the separation of Abkhazia, left his traces in Ukraine, in one harness with the Karabakh warlords called for the destruction of Azerbaijan. Zatulin is the same gangster as 'Motorola,' only neatly shaven and with a grown belly.
And no respectable sign 'director of the institute,' de facto non-existent, located in just four rooms and without a proper scientific apparatus, will wash from Zatulin his gangster past, originating from the time of the empire pushed into oblivion, in the name of whose revival in such shameless and dishonest ways wages 'war' this Soviet komsomol member - head of the Moscow State University Komsomol 'squad.' History remembers everything: how Zatulin cobered up and supported criminal business, heading the Association of young business leaders of the USSR; how Zatulin created fraudulent 'International Bank for Trade and Cooperation,' which conned thousands of people in 1993; how Zatulin acquired property in Spain after the fraud with 23 millions of lottery tickets for 140 apartments that shook Muscovites; how Zatulin, as the owner of the company 'Robrok,' received his commission from the first speculators of the newly created market...
Such a dissolute and reckless past trails in the life of the State Duma Deputy Zatulin, who is firmly accustomed to the role of the main speaker of the Armenian vicious propaganda at the Kremlin walls. In the past head of the intermediary brokerage firm 'Robrok,' Zatulin today also receives his commissions from the Armenian criminal pyramids, but only the subject of trade today is another one: information and politics! Now he has a commission from Moscow's well-known oligarch, owner of the group 'Tashir' Samvel Karapetyan.
Who is behind Zatulin?
Who is Samvel Karapetyan? Forbes estimated S. Karapetyan' fortune at $4 billion; annual turnover of his company is about half a billion dollars, and in management it has about one million square metres of commercial real estate in Moscow. And Samvel Karapetyan is brother of Karen Karapetyan, former head of President Sargsyan's administration in 2008-2011. In the 'Tashir' company there are represented also the interests of the former Armenian President, Robert Kocharyan through his close friend Gennady Stepanyan, founder of the group of companies 'Stinkom.' Stepanyan's son, as was reported by Russian media, in his turn is a partner of Artem Chayka, son of Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chayka.
So, right after blogger Lapshin's extradition to Baku, Konstantin Zatulin erupted with an angry article 'I am ashamed of Lukashenko and the Union State,' and was the first to sound the alarm in connection with the created within the CIS new and, as he writes, 'dangerous precedent' with arrest and extradition to Baku of persons, who violated the official requirement of the Azerbaijani authorities on the inadmissibility to visit the occupation zone without the permission of the official structures of Azerbaijan. Zatulin has resorted to political juggling and frankly distorts the reality. Clear political trickery!
Official Baku does not prohibit representatives of political elites - parliamentarians, journalists, politicians and observers to visit the zone of occupation, however, requires to obtain permission, and it is governed by a sovereign right of the state! Zatulin is discouraged, worried and deeply concerned about 'Lapshin precedent' because he can share the fate of the disgraced blogger himself.
He understands that in spite of his parliamentary immunity in Russia, he could be arrested and brought to Baku in handcuffs from the territory of a third country. No need to look far afield: from the very same Belarus, which he often visits. 'Such vindictiveness lowers Azerbaijan's image,' angrily uttered Zatulin. But then another question: isn't Russia as vindictive and principled on issues relating to its strategic and national interests? Why can Russia be vindictive, and Azerbaijan cannot? 'We, in Russia, are ourselves to blame, when we call a spade a spade,' exclaims Zatulin. So please, call a spade a spade, and ask yourself a fair question, finally!
'One never knows, in the near abroad, the epidemic of trading foreign citizens for political or economic reasons, will affect Russia's most ordinary citizens, who rediscovered in the summer Crimea,' Zatulin throws his last arguments, hoping to reach out to the Russian authorities by speculating with so sensitive a topic as Crimea's reintegration. But Zatulin should be reminded in Moscow that Azerbaijan, unlike Armenia, voted against the introduction of sanctions against Russia in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Does Zatulin know that Armenian parliamentary delegation at the same time voted to impose sanctions? Sanctions over Crimea, rediscovered by Russians in the summer. And if Zatulin is guided by the national interests of his country, this argument at least will make the director of the institute to think and encourage to reassess his own opinion. Well, if Karapetyan's commission gets the upper hand, what else to expect from the MP-statists, lashing out at his country's closest ally in the interests of the distant and barely visible Ararat!
Zatulin is happy to serve because his evil insinuations are links in the same chain of logic. Since 2010 he has been a herald and forerunner of 'Artsakh independence,' constantly visiting the occupation zone. One of the last actions of this pro-Armenian commissioner was an appeal to the Speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin to initiate the establishment of a parliamentary group of Russian and Nagorno-Karabakh friendship. In general, everything is clear with Zatulin, and one has to hope that this was just an isolated case of dirty bribe of the unscrupulous Russian deputy.
But how to explain the Armenian starfall, this vicious meteor shower on the popular in Azerbaijan Russian television? Kurginyan, Bagdasarov, Shakhnazarov, Mirzayan, Babayan, Satanovskiy... An endless list of names of various Armenian and pro-Armenian experts - regulars of talk shows and analytical programs, who have directed recently their arrows at the official Baku. All of them, jeering in every way, declare hostile speeches at the pro-Armenian platforms of the main actor of the Russian zombie TV box, Solovyov, who, by his own admission, 'loves his delusions and painfully parts with illusions,' while urging all to certain reflections and no less dangerous resume. Part of the Russian establishment began to apply in respect of Azerbaijan identical ideological and propaganda tactics, as in the history of confrontation with Turkey. Someone in Russia is trying hard to destroy the Russian-Azerbaijani political alliance. Once they have split the alliance of Erdogan and Putin, they have created in the public mind the image of Turkey as enemy of the country. Now, apparently, it is the turn of Azerbaijan.
And if you add to this risen wave of propaganda permanent information diversions of the publications of Ms. Simonyan and Aram Gabrelyanov (remember how in the days of the April war, the leading Russian mass media, that had come under the control of Armenian journalists, were trumpeting the involvement of ISIL commandos in hostilities on the Azerbaijan's side!), and also Zhirinovsky's rhetoric on the re-establishment of Baku province as part of Russia, as under the tsar, then a very disturbing picture is revealed.
...And there were 'Iskanders'
Anxiety is enhanced by the appearance at the peak of this hostile tirade of Russian 'Iskander' missile complexes in Armenia. For now they claim that the guns of these 'Iskanders' are aimed at the Middle East. But it is just yet.
Guns aimed at the eastern countries remain silent, but in the small Italian town of Melendugno, Molotov cocktails fly at the office of the company engaged in the construction of TAP gas pipeline strategic for Azerbaijan. Initially, access to the sea of this 3 200 kilometre gas pipeline was planned at the city of Brindisi in the Italian region of Apulia. But somehow, in Apulia riots broke out against the construction of TAP, which is to ensure diversification of gas routes and save the Italians themselves from natural gas dependence, because after the completion of the project gas prices will fall in all of Italy. However, residents of Apulia suddenly became preoccupied with the threat that the pipeline supposedly represented for a supply pipe with drinking water. Molotov cocktails, and then protests demanding the protection of the aqueduct...
But that's not all. They even protested in connection with the safety of the rare Mediterranean monk seals. And now a new reason: olive trees belonging to 150 families.
As it turned out, one of the main instigators of the protest movement against the Azerbaijani pipeline was the leader of a parliamentary faction, showman and head of the 5 STARS movement Beppe Grillo. SOCAR Vice-President Elshad Nasirov in an interview to Western media cautiously hinted that Beppe Grillo has friends and patrons in Russia.
Branched script of the anti-Azerbaijani protests became too much cause for concern after several actions in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Russia. And this in the centre of Moscow, where they prohibit even one man pickets! Russian police for 45 minutes meekly gazed from the side at the action of Moscow Shiite organisation 'Ahlibeyt,' whose slogans were anti-governmental in nature.
The more the merrier. In recent months, a separatist sect of the Talysh community has sharply intensified in Moscow. The names of the true patrons of Talysh separatists are well known both in Moscow and Baku. But another pro-Armenian nest in the Russian information technology system - Regnum agency is completely placed in the service of these separatists. And Fakhraddin Abbasov (or as he is often presented in the Russian media, Aboszoda Fakhraddin) - the second person of the separatist 'Talysh-Mugan Republic' from the criminal community of Alikram Humbatov, feel at ease in Moscow, giving interviews against the Azerbaijani authorities, in full security and under protection opening new Talysh opening new sites, throws separatist threats against Azerbaijan.
Thus, pro-Armenian forces in Moscow torpedo the Russian-Azerbaijani political alliance and strategic partnership, destroy the platform of partnership and friendship between the two countries, which is based on the personal alliance, relationship of trust and friendship between presidents Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin. This is a dangerous and far-reaching combination, because the authors of these diversions are well aware of all the negative effects of this insidious game. In any case, there remains an unpleasant aftertaste.
The question is not in the passport, but the identity
In Azerbaijan we ask a fair question about the inexplicable and genuine interest of some representatives of the Russian authorities towards Lapshin case. Is Russia concerned by the fate of its citizen caught in Azerbaijani jail?
Let us start with the fact that Lapshin has a very conditional relation to Russia, and his Russian passport is just a formality. After all, Lapshin went to Israel when he was 13 years old, and his life to a greater extent is associated with that country. He served in the Israeli army, and felt himself a full-fledged citizen of that country. Only a short episode of his life is associated with Russia: from 2002 to 2007 Lapshin was in his homeland. And from 2008 he was back in Israel. From there he went to Georgia. Imagine, the last two years Lapshin lived in Batumi, and Georgia has in his life as much space as Russia.
The question arises, why isn't Russia as concerned about the fate of another of its citizens, Dilgam Askerov? After all, this prisoner, who is held captive by Armenians, has a Russian passport too. And Dilgam's family appealed repeatedly to the Russian authorities to stand up for its citizen. President Ilham Aliyev at the trilateral meeting in Sochi personally handed to Russian President Putin a letter from Dilgam Askerov's family. And after that too the prisoner's family sent letters and telegrams to Moscow with a plea for help. No reaction!
Lavrov is silent, Zhirinovsky does not respond, the Moscow ombudsman has not given a hint of support. Russia threw its citizen to fend for himsef. Here is another example: wife of the second Azerbaijani captive Shahbaz Guliyev is Russian. She is also a citizen of Russia. So why no soul grieves in Moscow about such a barbarous and sacrilegious treatment of its citizens. After all, the hostages are languishing under torture!
What a manifestation of double standards? Why is Lapshin so dear, while Askerov and Guliyev are not? Why does nobody care about the sorrows and sufferings of the Russian woman? What is the fault of these Azerbaijanis - new prisoners of the Caucasus? Well, like Lapshin, they visited the zone of occupation in Karabakh. Only unlike Lapshin they have not received permission of the Armenian authorities and the occupation army in Karabakh! Do not look for logic here, it is just politics.
Who stopped the Karabakh breakthrough?
But more recently, only six months ago, here in Azerbaijan, we were all inspired by Russia's mediatory mission in the Karabakh settlement. It seemed that just about, and the Gordian knot would be cut. Other co-chairs of the Minsk Group - the United States and France have actually moved away from active mediation. They do not exist in the region, they have distanced themselves from its main problem. The United States is bogged down in the quagmire of the Middle Eastern conflicts and confrontations, it cares not about the Caucasus, the more so that Iran is at stake; and France is busy searching for its place in the new world order. Russia with the wholehearted support of the conflicting parties took on the mission of a protector-intermediary.
There was so much hope after the meeting of the presidents in Saint Petersburg. The same Russian experts in unison were talking about the sudden breakthrough. All were waiting for the political declaration. However, high expectations have given way to great disappointment. And stagnation occurred in the negotiations. Scepsis, sighs and gloom sounded in the voices. And on the faces is seen one big painfully absent expression. The Armenian party in Moscow at the expense of great efforts stopped the Karabakh breakthrough.
Won't someone stop the expansion of the pro-Armenian lobbyists? In fact, after President Vladimir Putin's official visits to Baku in 2013, 2015 and 2016, there opened a new milestone in the history of Azerbaijan's relations with Russia and the fraternal peoples. Azerbaijan has even played a key role in the implementation of the new doctrine of the formation of a regional security system and the concept of the geopolitical balance of power.
Azerbaijan did everything to reconcile Russia with the Turkish elites after the incident with the downed Russian aircraft, has become one of the pillars in the geopolitical structure Russia-Iran-Azerbaijan. And finally opened its doors to the meeting of US and Russian general staff chiefs. This is the first historic meeting of heads of the general staffs of the two powers not only during the Trump presidency, but the first dialogue since 2014.
In all the international forums Azerbaijan expressed and expresses a single consolidated position with Russia. And today, the alliance with the fraternal Russian people fell under the sword of Damocles gripped by treacherous hand of the Armenian lobby. And the lobby targets its two primordial historical enemies: Azerbaijan and Turkey. That is what we hear from experts on Russian TV.
There is, however, another point of view. Prominent Russian ideologists of today, for example, Dugin, discussing the nature of the new world order, come to the natural inference about the formation of a new geopolitical axis of Russia-Turkey. And this cohort of ideologists-statists flatly reject the factor and influence of the historical background of tradition of confrontation inherited through centuries bewteen the Russian power orthodoxy and the Turkish neo-othoman idea of a worldwide caliphate. Not because Kemalism was the starting point of no return to patriarchal neo-othomanism restoration, but because of ethno-political discourse used by modern Russian power for the formation of the Russian civil identity and the Russian nation.
Zhirinovsky and other neo-statists often repeat the idiom 'as in the Tsar's time!' However, it can no longer be as under the tsar: the Soviet era blurred the boundaries and equalised in rights the Russian and the Tatar (scratch a Russian, and you will find a Tatar!), because it is still a big question, who is more Russian - ethnic Chechen Kadyrov, or ethnic Russian Kasyanov... This is a new phenomenon of the Russian ethno-political identity. Tens of millions of today's Russians are either ethnic Slavs, or belong to a Turkic ethnos. Not the colonial peoples as under the tsar, not serf farmers as under Stalin, but full-fledged Russians! That is why Turkey and Russia are destined for a single geopolitical arc. Just as Dugin likes to repeat. And Azerbaijan will take a proper place, worthy of itself, in this arc.
Armenian lobbyists have become a threat to national interests of Russia, because they destroy the friendly relations between our countries. Where we are going? This question ask the political elites. Isn't it time for Russia's prominent statists to turn away from the Ararat near the Kremlin walls, the more that Ararat since the days of the Ottoman Empire is located in Turkey? That is the question, to which there is yet no answer.