Our Analytics 12 september — 14:21

And now Leyla Yunus appeared before French court (View into France)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

The inviolability of voices of criticism and the guarantee of freedom of the media is not only a symbolic conquest of Western democracy, but also one of the functional immune systems of a state. But along with the conquest, the freedom of expression led to a logical comprehension of yet another immutable value, incidentally, stemming from the rethinking of unlimited freedom: the responsibility of the media. Where does a journalist's freedom end, and where does his responsibility begin? Theorists to this day have not come to a general summary, because such discussions are more philosophical and sociological in nature, but the majority, proceeding from the values of liberalism itself, is convinced: freedom ends where freedom of another person begins. And the measure of the responsibility of a journalist does not allow to pass this almost invisible and relative boundary.

Responsibility or freedom

In addition to these two seemingly mutually exclusive, but in fact complementary definitions, there are two more major and seemingly insoluble problems of the Western journalistic community: bias and stereotyping. This is what Azerbaijan has been facing for a quarter of a century. Official Baku patiently listened for a long time to the exorbitant criticism, which sometimes overflowed. But one of the reports by the public France 2 TV, authoritative in France, filled the cup of patience of our authorities. Journalists of this TV channel Elise Lucet and Laurent Richard in September 2015 prepared a report, which called the political regime ruling in Azerbaijan "a fierce dictatorship." Apparently, the Azerbaijani authorities, indignant at the irresponsibility of French journalists, passing all the norms of journalistic etiquette, decided to apply to the court.

Azerbaijan requires symbolic compensation, only 1 euro, because in this issue the government is only interested in the moral side of the issue. We need a precedent that will put an end to indiscriminate oathing and insulting rhetoric affecting the president, his family members and the government in general.

After all, the journaslits sound not just a value judgment, but a verdict that horrifies millions of viewers, defining a member country of the Council of Europe as one of a number of states where regimes of paramilitary dictatorship reigns, or a usurpation of power by a group of people or one voluntarist is permissible.

Authors of the ill-fated reportage

So, two French journalists in September 2015, during the visit of former French President Hollande to Azerbaijan, in their "Cash Investigation" program called Azerbaijan "one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world." A big blow has been struck against the reputation of the state, which is compared to North Korea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and other countries that have embarked on the path of political execution, the barracks system and the militarization of the economy. We may be asked how much damage the country can be inflicted by a report of the French TV channel. The most direct, in fact! Who wants to visit Pyongyang, where the laws are replaced by the will of the dictator, and the intelligence services see every American tourist as a potential CIA agent? Nobody, and first of all because of considerations of personal safety. Hearing about a 'dictatorial regime' in Azerbaijan, French tourists, like other European travelers, will most likely give up the dangerous idea of experiencing fate in a "dictatorial country"! After all, nothing is guaranteed there, and first of all personal immunity and freedom! The government of Azerbaijan had to react, because the lack of reaction could be perceived as a tacit agreement.

And on September 5, the first court session was held on the suit of the Azerbaijani government. The interests of Azerbaijan are represented by well-known French lawyer Olivier Pardo.

In their testimony, the French journalists began to assure the judge that the report was prepared on the basis of a comprehensive analysis and a serious study of the situation in Azerbaijan. And at the same time, they say, they weighed every word, including accusations of dictatorship. After these testimonies, lawyer Olivier Pardo asked the journalists the basic question about the population of Azerbaijan. However, neither Lucet, nor Richard could answer this simple question. Journalists were speking about comprehensive analysis, not having the slightest idea about the country itself. Isn't it strange? The lawyer's next question was: "What cities in Azerbaijan can you name, apart from its capital Baku?" Again silence. Journalists could not name any city in Azerbaijan.

The outraged lawyer spread his arms: "Can you imagine an Azerbaijani journalist calling France dictatorial?! And without having data on the population, on the existence of such cities as Marseille, Lyon or Nantes..."

French Themis

The respondents shrugged their shoulders to this too. And then the arguments of lawyer Olivier caught the journalists completely unawares. The lawyer sounded non-rhetorical questions: "Can the state be considered a dictatorship if death penalty is abolished there, women are entitled to vote and are equal in rights, secularism is proclaimed and peaceful coexistence of all religions and confessions is ensured, the European Convention is recognized as part of national legislation?" Questions, questions, questions... The last unanswered question, addressed to the journalists, was: "Did you know that Azerbaijani citizens enjoy the right of appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and often win there? And the government of Azerbaijan implements all the decisions and pays fines? Is it possible under a dictatorship?" The journalists' silence dragged on. And this silence was not violated even after the lawyer's culmination question about the mission of the pro-Armenian deputy François Rochebloine: the only member of the French National Assembly accusing Azerbaijan of rampant dictatorship under the accompaniment of the Armenian diaspora!

The French journalists had no choice but to resort to the help of their witnesses: the alleged victims of the 'repressions of the dictatorship.' Into the hall there came the painfully familiar Yunus couple. As it was recently revealed in Baku, this couple, in particular Leyla Yunus, having entered into a separate collusion with the authorities, expressed public respect for the First Vice-President, Mehriban Aliyeva. But in the French court these cynics and liars appeared in a different hypostasis: the miserable beaten victims, reminiscent of comic characters from Alexei Tolstoy's adaptation of "The Adventures of Pinocchio": Alice the Fox and Basilio the Cat. This time, they again needed an old-age walking stick, valocordin and a gray wig.

Alice the Fox and Basilio the Cat were there too

However, Leyla Yunus was facing a battle with the venerable French lawyer, Olivier Prado. Under a hail of sharp and caustic questions, she, to her own shame, had to tell about her unseemly deeds. A human rights activist in a gray wig in the manner of Lyudmila Alekseeva was forced to admit that she had held the post of deputy minister of defence (?!), and during her imprisonment was regularly examined by doctors and met with European parliamentarians. And then the lawyer asked a virtuoso question: "Are such things possible under a dictatorship?" Leyla Yunus evaded the answer. Everyone in the courtroom understood how unenviable the fate of Yunus might have been, if she were in the dungeons of the dictatorial Pyongyang. She might not have get away with botulism alone...

And then Leyla Yunus began to tell how in Azerbaijan they were persecuting Talyshs due to their ethnicity. And, of course, she did not fail to recall the deportation of Armenians from Baku and Khanlar district in the early 1990s. Why, after all, it were Leyla Yunus and Hikmet Hajizade, who conducted a campaign in the Baltic region in defense of the Armenian population during the special operation "Ring", as a result of which most of the bearded militants had been expelled from the suburb of the second city of Azerbaijan, Ganja...

Then Arif Yunus himself was called to answer. And he was forced to admit that he had been the head of the Analytical Center of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan. The same questions, the same answers. Suddenly, Arif, out of habit, "became sick." Doctors were summoned to the courtroom, just as during Moliere's performances in Baku. Valocordin immediately brought to the senses the imaginary patient well-known in the Baku processes. And Leyla behaved like in her most popular scene, when she had publicly said "I want to pee!" Throwing her usual inadequate manic-depressive look at the lawyer, she screamed in her own manner: "You will answer for everything!" The Frenchman did not quite understand to whom and what for he should answer.

Then the Yunus couple went to the exit. When exiting Leyla forgot her walking stick. The scene was left behind. Gray hair should be changed urgently to the hair color of a tempting blonde. And here there was the most curious and scandalous episode. Leyla Yunus unexpectedly noticed the former head of the OSCE mission in Azerbaijan, French diplomat Alexis Shakhtakhtinsky. Leaving the hall, she somehow decided to break her anger on him, repeating her favorite phrase: "You will answer for everything!" Before whom and why Shakhtakhtinsky should be called to account, Leyla Yunus did not explain.

Alexis Shakhtakhtinsky

Finally, the third witness of the defendants made a speech at the trial: representative of the well-known international journalist organization "Reporters without Borders" Johann Bihr. Lawyer Olivier approached Bihr more closely and, with his unexpected question, knocked down the human rights activist on the spot: "Judging by the latest rating table of your organization, France occupies the 38th place in terms of freedom of the media. But you have given the 29th place in the table to Suriname, a country with the dictatorial heritage. Can France be called a dictatorship?" To this lofty question of the lawyer, Bihr answered in a confused, florid manner.

In addition to the aforementioned Yunus duo, well-known representatives of the so-called political emigration also came to cheer for the French TV journalists. Ganimat Zahid was nervously pacing back and forth in the corridor. He was not allowed to speak at the trial. Ganimat still could not master any of the foreign languages. To his shame and squalor, the journalist speaks only Azeri. Apparently, the judge was never able to find a Turkic-speaking interpreter in the secretariat. Next to Ganimat appeared photographer Agil Khalil. The prospect of punishment of the French journalists for their irresponsibility in their value judgments instilled fear in the hearts of many political emigrants who exchanged the ascetic struggle for democracy for a refugee card in Paris.

Company is assembled

A sinecure in the country of passionate love was found not only by Khalil, but also by another comrade of Karimli in the struggle for a just cause, Rahim Hajiyev. Also very funny character perceiving the world not only through his impressive Soviet glasses, but also through fascinating stories of encyclopaedists and Jacobins of two centuries ago. And he stood behind the fragile shoulders of Ganimat. For what and in the name of what are struggling all these strange people? In a word, such absolute nonsense engulfed the court in the heart of France. Rahim Hajiyev was actively discussing something with another vivid representative of the political plebs, a certain Gani Novruzov. And he somehow miraculously appeared among the chevalier.

Something is hotly discussed in the lobby

But most of all discouraging was the appearance of activists from the Armenian diaspora in France in this crowd of marginal national democrats. Apparently, the Armenians came to support their comrades in the struggle. After all, the goals of the Armenian lobbyists and all these people are identical: the war with Azerbaijan. The photo shows how the national democrats are hotly discussing something with Armenian activists.

Ganimat and his friends heart to heart with Armenians

Unfortunately, in France there is some ambiguous situation with the national democrat marginals from Azerbaijan. For some reason, the French authorities with open arms meet "these fighters against a dictatorship." For example, one of the most corrupt rectors in the history of the disintegration of Azerbaijani education, Elshad Abdullayev is still taking refuge there. This shady dealer, who established in the first years of independence a university with an overseas name "San Marino", which was unfamiliar at the time, managed to create a surgical room in the same educational institution, where criminals in white coats took organs from healthy people and then sold them to Albania. Elshad Abdullaev traded in human organs for quite a long time, until 2011, when he escaped to France. And despite the demands of the Azerbaijani authorities, E.Abdullayev is hiding from justice under the wing of imaginary French humanism.

Former prosecutor Vidadi Isgandarov also found shelter there. While being public prosecutor, Isgandarov was stealing criminal cases by wagons, but then his prosecutor's shop was closed down. And the state prosecutor became a human rights activist. Recently, V.Isgandarov was renounced by his own mother and brother, an outrageous thing for the traditionalist Azerbaijani society. Vidadi had been hiding in Georgia for a long time, but after the failure of the "Georgian underground of the national democrats," with the help of the French ambassador to Tbilisi he fled to Paris. By the way, in due time the French channel was used also by the Yunus couple, who received overnight a five-year visa. The human rights defender, who earned with her unjust labor for apartments in European capitals and Turkey, fled to the airport in the car of the French Embassy...

The French government and its embassy in Baku should put on the scales partnership with the Azerbaijani authorities and patronage of political prisoners and petty thieves, who hide behind the IDs of political prisoners. It has nothing to do with politics, and even more so with the human rights.

As for the responsibility of the French journalists, the court will issue its verdict on November 7. Symbolically, on the day of the Great October Socialist Revolution, which laid the foundation for a new form of dictatorship, the "dictatorship of the proletariat". The French journalists should on this day delve into history and understanding what is really happening to people under a dictatorship...

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