Our Analytics 13 december — 13:46

Oligarch Ahmedov called on President Aliyev to hand over power to rabble (Leading article)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

Well-known Russian billionaire Farhad Akhmedov published a conceptual program article on the political situation in Azerbaijan on the eve of early parliamentary elections. The article caused a wide resonance in the public opinion of the country and attracted the attention of the political establishment. Thus, Farhad Ahmedov achieved his goal: the opposition leaders were very enthusiastic about the annotation, entitled with the battered phrase 'Road Map,' which expressed the sentiments of the National Council and Ali Karimli. And the authorities simply did not understand their ideological ally, because in recent years, with his panegyrics to the President and the powers that be, Ahmedov has gained such a reputation. The ideological and political platform of the formerly oil and gas tycoon has also deceived the expectations of the expert community: the analytical calculation enters into strict antagonism with antitheses conclusions, which, in essence, are an ultimatum political declaration.

Antitheses of Farhad Ahmedov

Based on the theory of political convergence, imaginary in our conditions, Ahmedov exclaims in a masterly way: opposition is a good thing! However, proceeding to a deep and generally objective analysis of the current situation in the camp of opponents of the Aliyev government, he comes to a disappointing conclusion, classifying the Azerbaijani opposition as: a) revanchist-surviving and marginal (meaning the national democrats and all the renegades dropped out of the Popular Front overcoat); b) new parasites competing with the classics ('realists' and others); c) amorphous fluid intellectuals; d) religious political (Islamists, pro-Iranian Shiites and radical Wahhabis)... Although Ahmedov does not speak openly, he indirectly calls for the creation of a qualitatively new opposition force. However, a free interpretation and a hyperbolised analysis of the Azerbaijani political environment, the likely forms and means of political struggle demonstrate the frankly amateurish approach of Farhad Ahmedov to the current political system.

First mistake: not parliamentarism, but presidential republic

The main mistake in Ahmedov's plot is a misinterpretation of the form of government, as well as the system of organisation of the highest bodies of state power. The author, enthusiastically discussing the exclusive control and oversight function of the parliament, forgets that Azerbaijan has established a super-presidential form of government with unlimited powers of the head of state, vested with the right to dissolve the parliament. Yes, here is such a special kind of republican form of government, identical to the rigid Russian executive vertical, with which Farhad Ahmedov is well acquainted with the period of his activity in the Federation Council of that country. It is a matter of political science, with which Ahmedov, apparently, is not well acquainted. After all, with such a classic presidential form of government, there are no balances in the person of parliament and court.

The oligarch confuses parliamentarism with the presidential republic, amateurishly discussing the control and audit functions of the Milli Majlis (National Assembly). Akhmedov not only calls into question the constitutional foundations of the Azerbaijani state, but also condemns the 'cynical-indifferent attitude of society to the institution of elections.' And in general, in his opinion, confidence in the election institution has been undermined in Azerbaijan. Who's guilty? Ahmedov defames the power elite, accusing it of the Stalinist management methodology. Although in fairness we must admit that if the Stalinist concept of usurping power reigned in Azerbaijan, Farhad Ahmedov would not indulge in political dreams on a yacht or in the Goychay landowner's estate, but with his dissidence would share a miserable Gulag existence with the Trotskyists and Zinovievites. What kind of pluralism of opinions can be discussed in Stalinist society?

Oligarch mixed up forms of government

Let us leave history alone. Could billionaire Ahmedov express so freely his analytical mind in most countries of Central Asia? Not even in Turkmenistan, but at least in Kazakhstan? The infringed sense of justice of the author does not allow him to face the truth. The degradation of the institution of elections in Azerbaijan was determined by the strategy of both a revanchist-surviving and a new opposition parasitic in anticlassics. Since 2005, with the beginning of the process of the final decomposition of the social base of the systemic opposition (the first tendency began after the 2003 presidential election), on which the entire electoral protest base turned its back, opponents of the government and dissenters focused on the election boycott strategy. After the final collapse of the revolutionary version of the situation, the final segmentation of the opposition camp took place. The only ideological and political alternative to power has become unattractive for both passionate social forces and centrifugal pro-government: the retrograde national democratic fronde.

Collapse began in orange 2005

Realising the futility of attempts to change the status quo and the balance of socio-political forces, it was this atavistic attribute of the Gorbachev era that chose the strategy of political survival at all costs, including opportunism, complicity, defeatism, imitation of struggle. Having exhausted real and even potential resources, the opposition was not only incapable of a worthy and equal fight, but because of the disorganisation of its social base, it realised that there were no opportunities to fight for the votes of a passive protest electorate and the discontented part of the society, placing all responsibility for the country's future on a vague concept: the people.

Thus, Farhad Ahmedov distorts the history of the issue, perverts the background of the formation of a unipolar political system with the participation of a single self-sufficient actor: the government. After all, it was precisely the authorities that in every way stimulated the emergence and formation of a constructive opposition, the absence of which the author laments in his reasoning. There were attempts to create constructive alternatives: be it Asim Mollazadeh's Party of Democratic Reforms, Fazil Mustafa's Party of the Great Resistance, the Popular Front Party cloned by Gudrat Hasanguliyev and many other political entities that have chosen the theory of revision and the forms of struggle of the national democrats' doctrine. They have repeatedly received opportunities for self-expression at the parliamentary chair, for the government itself was not interested in the homogeneity of the political elite. However, in the glossy epoch of the crazy oil era, an indifferent society identified constructive opposition with the power elite, without perceiving the evolutionary transformation supporters as a real alternative to power. And this conflict, of course, is due to a combination of factors. First of all, the high standard of living of the society during the period of oil industrialisation, which was an absolute merit of the authorities in the fair distribution of dividends from oil wealth.

Glossy picture of 2000s

But, of course, an important factor was the identity and commonality of the so-called constructivists with the classic implacable opposition. A major role in achieving a new social contract, perceived by the protest electorate, was played at one time or another by a permanent reconciliation with the authorities of those political leaders, who were alienated from the national democrats, but popular among the society: Ayaz Mutalibov, the Alizadeh brothers, then Lala Shevket, finally Rustam Ibragimbekov... This was largely determined by the common value and worldview system, one socio-cultural level of the politicians that went over to the side of power and the power elite itself.

Farhad Ahmedov bypasses political determinism in the history of the development of the Azerbaijani opposition in the fat 2000s and revanchist post-2000s, and therefore is mistaken in his resume. After all, the oligarch lived far away from Azerbaijan, he knows not of the ups and downs of political life, he is not familiar with the prerequisites of the created political situation.

Second mistake: British democracy for China

In his theory, Farhad Ahmedov contrasts two forms of political regime: totalitarianism and British democracy. In the description of political regimes, the author is again an amateur, and somehow, in a peculiarly unscientific manner, skips from one socio-economic formation to another. At the same time, without realising the dialectic of the development of Western bourgeois society after the epoch-making European revolution of 1848. How can one separately consider the formation of a political regime and form of government outside ethno-confessional characteristics and archetypes of peoples? But what about the German development path? Or the Austrian conservatism of Metternich? And why is the French political model discarded, the one on the basis of which Marx built his spiral of history. After the revolution, anarchy sets in, which leads to Bonapartism, which ends with restoration! And why isn't considered 'uvarovschina' with a special and dominant Russian world, the Russian spirit embodied in a strong state and serf people?

And does the author really ignore the eastern know-how: the model of Islamic democracy, expressed in modern Iran? And what about the model of theocratic Israel, which suppressed the right to a religious alternative and secularism? And is China's panacea for totalitarianism a British democracy? What would become of this great state if great Dan had shown momentary weakness during the days of the uprising at Tiananmen? Say, China with its 'second economy in the world,' so hostile to political pluralism and the manifestation of liberal opposition, which chose the model of internal party democracy, pushed itself to a social explosion...

What would have happened, if Dan flinched?

And that is exactly what Farhad Ahmedov believes, assuring that the concentration of all administrative levers and resources in the hands of the authorities is pushing it on the wrong track. Is China on the wrong track, and does it need British democracy? Does Farhad Ahmedov himself understand the described essence of the issue?

And immediately after the superficial opposition of ephemeral totalitarianism and detached British democracy, Farhad Ahmedov starts a discussion on the theory and philosophy of the opposition. Even in the most closed totalitarian countries there is an alternative point of view expressed in the internal party discussion. This is an axiom that does not require proof or refutation. What does Ahmedov want to say? The author simply shows Azerbaijan an example of Russia with its Public Chamber, hinting that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is not ready to listen and accept public criticism. It is amazing, because the most important critic of his own power is Ilham Aliyev himself.

Is this a closed president?

Refer to the last speeches of the president, who sharply and systematically criticised the bureaucratic class, who openly spoke about the country's urgent problems and ailments of the economy... Each time, the president calls on journalists, experts and critics to have an open dialogue about the problems. And Farhad Ahmedov considers this power paternalistic?

Third mistake: Liberal democracy suppresses religious freedom

Further, Farhad Ahmedov, in a warlike Kemalist spirit, discusses the inadmissibility of the functioning of the religious-political opposition. The author sounds the alarm, drawing attention to the high mobilisation potential of the religious opposition. Farhad Ahmedov again contradicts himself. On the one hand, a supporter of the liberal-democratic path of development condemns the government for the lack of equal opportunities for political struggle, and on the other, he actually calls for restricting, or rather banning, the activities of the religious opposition, which threatens the constitutional foundations of the country. Excuse me, but how does the theory of British democracy in this case correlate with the call for the suppression of political freedom of a single social force?

According to the theory of Farhad Ahmedov, they must be given access to power

Does Farhad Ahmedov know what liberal democracy is? It is not social democracy, please do not confuse! Liberal democracy declares the necessity to limit the will of the majority and the government itself in the name of the freedom of all minorities and even one free citizen! How, let's say, would Farhad Ahmedov react to the prospect of the victory of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan in the parliamentary elections? Does he allow this possibility? And what should the authorities do if the electorate cast the majority of votes to the Shiite Islamists, the fifth column of Tehran? For some reason, in his analytical calculation, the author somehow awkwardly overlooks such an important problematic question, generated by the triumph of the liberal democracy of the British type. No, in this part, Farhad Ahmedov is a supporter of decisive authoritarian and punitive methods. But what about Stalinism or totalitarianism? What about the concentration of all power in one hands? How in his reasoning will Farhad Ahmedov step over this stumbling block? This is where the blank spots of the oligarch's theory begin. There is no answer to the question. Again the antinomy!

But Farhad Ahmedov is adamant, he continues to insist on creating a real opposition faction in parliament. But what if supporters of Haji Taleh, a prisoner in Gobustan prison, become this real faction? What does Ahmedov propose to do, because it is a question of the legitimacy of power and its reputation in the world, isn't it?

And here Farhad Ahmedov again returns to his favourite theme: an antidote in the person of constructive opposition! And where does it come from? Farhad Ahmedov replies: the generation of new politicians. And if they don't exist in the country? And then come the words, words, words, hollow, empty, but alluring, like the forgotten Gaidar and the lost Yavlinsky. Farhad Ahmedov's vocabulary is causing sarcasm, the author is trying to make up for the lack of clear thoughts and well-reasoned arguments with a load of political science terminology, which is often used out of place.

Farhad Ahmedov calls for a change in the conservative power elite, shamelessly not mentioning the latest revolutionary changes. After all, Ilham Aliyev displaced the entire old guard, and young technocrats invaded the government, which promptly prompted the regeneration of the power elite. What conservatives does Ahmedov talk about? Where are they? Are Mikayil Jabbarov, Samir Nuriyev, or Ali Asadov representatives of the conservative wing of the Azerbaijani political class? What nonsense is this?

And what does Farhad Ahmedov himself offer? How does he see the path of electoral reform?

The oligarch, either intentionally or out of ignorance, invites the president and the ruling elite to surrender all the power in the country to the non-systemic opposition, which he himself criticises and denies. Otherwise, how to explain the absurd demand of Farhad Ahmedov to dissolve the Central Election Commission, the district commissions, to revise the election law in its entirety? Suppose the government accepted the proposal of the Russian oligarch, dismissed the CEC and the district commissions, proposing to the non-systemic opposition to form new commissions on an equal footing. Does Farhad Ahmedov know that the Popular Front Party or the Musavat Party will not have even 50 competent representatives to work in these new commissions? Ahmedov proposes a complete transition to a proportional election system? Who will Ali Karimli put forward in this election? Unenlightened Gezal Bayramli, or maybe street-urchin Seymur Hazi, or the uncouth Tofig Yagublu? Or maybe the battered with life watermelon ex-prime minister Panah Huseyn? Or Isgandar Hamidov, forgotten by time?

Farhad Ahmedov offers to open the way to power for them too

What proportional system and with whom? Which lawyers, social scientists and financiers? In the ranks of the opponents of power there are the grey-age peers of Shakhrai and Burbulis! When was the last time Farhad Ahmedov found on the Russian political stage the forgotten heroes of the Yeltsin revolution? No, in the ranks of the opponents of power there is no Navalny, no Yashin, no Khodorkovsky at all, but only Gezal Bayramli! And Farhad Ahmedov, claiming scientific thinking and progressive views, offers Ilham Aliyev to hand over power to this rabble? Does Farhad Ahmedov understand what the year 1992 is for an Azerbaijani? And does the billionaire realise the measure of his responsibility?

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