Our Analytics 30 december — 13:36

President appointed district head. The latter asked himself: 'I need to live on 2,000 manats...' (Leading article)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

Is it a true story or a fairy tale? Although both true stories and fairy tales are genres of oral folk art. But folklore is composed of fables taken from life, and a fairy tale is still a fictional plot with magical heroes.

Instead of a prologue

Head of the Executive Authority (HEA) is no longer a feudal master endowed with unlimited absolutist power, speaking in the guise of the three letters of the law and on behalf of the law itself. HEA - speaking through the mouth of the president - should and finally becomes a servant of the people and the embodiment of law and order. And this is not a fairy tale, but a true story, the stuff of legend, with which I want to start today's story...

One of the newly-minted young heads of executive authority, captured by camera lenses in the format of new coverage of meetings and conferences with the president, arrived in the district, which he must now manage. The regular boyar retinue of the hangers-on met the head, as befits a Khan, with hypocrisy and thirst to please. Such is the tradition left from the prehistoric Soviet times - the first secretaries of the district committees, who later on somewhere donned the robes of governors, and somewhere hokims, and elsewhere the 'ijrabash' (as the governors of the executive branch were called in Azerbaijan from the first days of the post-Soviet era), personified all the power of an undivided power vertical. And a great mansion was prepared for the new head. Government need, as they say. But there was a problem. The head of the executive authority turned to the regular hangers-on with an awkward question: 'How much does it cost to rent this housing?' The question was very indecent according to the morals of reckless officials. And in front of us is a picture that was once described only with the pen of Saltykov-Shchedrin himself. A grimace of complete surprise and horror covered the faces of the hangers-on: 'How much does it cost?' And everyone whispered around: 'Is there really a crack in his skull? Since times immemorial the whole districth has always been the state property of the local chieftain!'

But the new head was adamant. 'My salary will not allow me to rent this mansion! Find me something more modest. After all, my salary is not more than 2 thousand manats. If one rents such a mansion, then how can one live for the rest of the month?' said the new young head of the district. 'How to live?' the local bureaucracy, dumbfounded by surprise, burst out laughing. After all, our district is a pie, to which the head is obliged to approach and gently bite. The district froze in horror... This has not happened since the first day of the establishment of Soviet power...

The fury of the president and the appearance of an official to the people

At that time, in the local culture club, thousands of residents of the district with their mouths open watched TV and caught every word of the enraged President Ilham Aliyev: 'When I go to some districts and ask the head of the district about the problems, he says everything is fine. But this cannot be so. Either he himself does not know about the problems, or tries to hide them, or I don’t know what goals he pursues. The words spoken by me to the newly appointed heads of districts in front of television cameras are the most important instructions for them, and they must fulfil them. Including with respect to citizens there should be no arbitrariness, they should not look down on citizens, should serve them, should not torment them, should not illegally demand money from entrepreneurs for some kind of improvement work. This is unacceptable, we do not need such improvement. They should not take bribes...'

Ilham Aliyev talks about officials who are not afraid of God

The president did not cope with rage. Ilham Aliyev bitterly admitted that officials are often not afraid of the God. Just before the TV watching session at the club, the main event of the day - the president’s speech - the district was full with the news of the appearance of a strange head of the executive authority who denied himself the desired feudal right to life in a luxurious palace. Is it a joke: a young official modestly appeared on the periphery with a human face, and not with idle questions and the desire to tear someone off, but with a request to hear about the urgent problems and troubles of people, and with determination to clear the Augean stables of his agile and greedy predecessor. And the head of the executive authority acts in accordance with the true code of manners and bureaucratic ethics - abandoning the palaces and the usual luxury of an official, settles in the modest, unsightly room of an ordinary resident of a small town. No, it was not an evil joke, not a fairy tale and not a fable, but the embodiment of the president's dream of a righteous official - a servant of the people.

The new head, having rejected the cordon of estrangement from the people - the local bureaucracy, went to the people with direct questions and an overt desire to destroy the old order.

And this is natural, because the choice in favour of not a hut or shack, but a palace is the actual nepotism and favouritism! That is, from year to year, Ilham Aliyev called on the holders of power over society to adopt a modest and ascetic lifestyle. 'I celebrate my birthday with refugees! Take an example from me! If officials or members of their families go against the society, they will be punished,' the president repeated incessantly.

Unfortunately, having unreasonably believed in its august immunity and impunity, part of the bureaucratic class resembled that same sinister cat from Krylov’s fable... Basil the cat is listening, but eating! For some reason, the crooks, mired in plutocracy, nepotism and patronage, were sure that the fight against corruption would not come to punitive measures. Although the president’s anti-corruption discourse did not leave an alternative path.

Barrier on Ilham Aliyev's path

And a few days ago, an unnatural from the point of view of the Azerbaijani political tradition event took place in Azerbaijan, because for the first time in many years, the authorities resorted to the most extreme and punitive form of the fight against corruption in the regions - criminal cases and arrests. For the past year, since the announcement of the new reform course, the president has warned both in public speeches and at various meetings with officials that the fight against corruption is approaching a bifurcation point. The arrest of two influential regional satrap officials is a landmark event in Ilham Aliyev’s anti-corruption strategy. Of course, in no country in the world, even in the totalitarian-tyrannical, the fight against corruption was not limited to punitive methods. The fight against negativity in the state apparatus and corruption of 'sovereign's people' is a combination of thoughtful, verified and diverse measures, ranging from arrests and administrative punishment to educational activities and social measures. Throughout his presidency, Ilham Aliyev turned to various forms and methodologies of struggle.

Corrupt officials are now punished by Security Service

Political opponents of the authorities, proceeding from a blind nihilistic denial of all initiatives emanating from the government itself (expressed in the old formula of imaginary politicking - we are opposed because we are opposed), immediately wondered - why not the government members, but secondary officials were punished for corruption? The so-called opposition did not realise the whole philosophy of the anti-corruption struggle, although it may have realised, however, remaining true to its principles - slander and earbuds - tried to question the true motives and intentions of the authorities!

If we return to the background of the issue, Ilham Aliyev began his rule precisely with punitive measures against corrupt officials and monopolists. One and a half year after coming to power, the president dealt a crushing blow to several corruption groups. The authorities disarmed and imprisoned key members of the government: super minister and monopolist Farhad Aliyev, leader of the tribalist hawks Ali Insanov, shadow cardinal Akif Muradverdiyev... The list goes on. Yes, it was a revealing political execution of political heavyweights from the president’s entourage. A lesson was intended for the future of most of the ruling class. Indeed, as one of the founders of the theory of anti-corruption struggle, the author of the Singapore miracle Lee Kuan Yew, said, 'the main thing is to imprison the closest ones, the rest will immediately understand everything.' Ilham Aliyev sincerely hoped that this shock would be a lesson for the ruling class. It didn't happen that way! And another cancerous tumour appeared in the state body - Mahmudovism. Outraged by the frenzy, deceit and state banditry of the 'system guardian,' impostor Eldar Mahmudov, the president challenged the 'deep state' by choosing an unprecedented punishment and disbanding the organisation of special services! About 20 generals were thrown into jail!

Hasn't the president of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, Jahangir Hajiyev suffered a well-deserved punishment?

And the president's initiative to hold regular meetings of officials with the people on the ground - every member of the government is obliged to visit one of the problem areas once a month in order to listen and put an end to bureaucratic red tape.

Mahmudovism as a mirror of state banditry

And the story of the corrupt Ministry of Transport? After all, the authorities challenged one of the all-powerful oligarchs - Ziya Mammadov. But one cannot imprison everyone... Even Lee Kuan Yew pointed to the depravity of universal repression. Will surgical intervention alone be able to save the country from cancerous cells of corruption? But what about therapy? So, President Ilham Aliyev made a historic decision to change political elites.

The president is completing a qualitative renewal of the ruling class - the government has completely changed, then the Presidential Administration, the Parliament has been dissolved... The president even undertook an enlightening mission, daily preaching the dominance of the eradication of corruption. In addition, the government strengthens the social security of the bureaucratic class. And all this epochal tectonic shift takes place under the daily exclamations of Ilham Aliyev about the fight against corruption.

Who can assure that after this revolutionary cleansing, there will be no officials left in the state apparatus who are eager to steal? Azerbaijan is not a country praised by Demosthenes in the myths of ancient democracy. There is no country in the world that has conquered corruption. Of course, there will be action. But so will be counteraction. The president entrusted the State Security Service with investigating the crimes of the stealing heads of the executive authorities and arresting them, which is a very significant and important action of state retaliation. For the president, corruption, nepotism, and paternalism are adversities representing the scale of state security. Indeed, if you believe sceptics and nihilists, having chosen their exclusive logical course of thought, the authorities, discredited in their desire to retouch state negativism and the consequences of the crimes of their influential officials, would not give the fight against corruption the scope of upholding state security, would they?

Suppose a version of the authors of a delusional search for a motive for power punishing officials for violating the rules of the game and an unwritten code has a right to exist. Let it be. The niche of the opposition world is full of various rumours. But then why engage the service responsible for state security by fanning the flames of political scandal and public fire? Wouldn’t it be easier to limit oneself to ostentatious rotation or to the involvement of one police unit in a 'dispute about concepts'? The solution is in the true motive of the power: to publicly punish those officials who encroached on the social benefits of the poor class. Prevent impunity and permissiveness syndrome. To warn and call for decent service other officials, who are finally obliged to realise the full significance of the new historical era and their role in dismantling the system.

Ilham Aliyev points the way to ministers

Ilham Aliyev is in a hurry. It is vitally important for the author of new economic transformations to see soon the fruits of his undertakings and efforts. The president gathers ministers daily, asks, demands, instructs, points the way... Countless meetings and discussions in the cabinet merged into one endless documentary about the revival of the Azerbaijani economy. And along this path, there remains as if an invisible barrier of gigantic proportions - hidden systemic corruption.

Instead of an epilogue

Immediately after the arrest of two eminent district heads, the doors of the previously walled up offices of the heads of the districts opened wide open. 

Officials went into the character of ideological 'Narodnaya Volya' members, dedicating themselves to the people frightened by them. Someone kisses the hand of an old woman facing heaven - because power in the East has always been identified with heaven, for centuries it has been unattainable; someone is knocking on the door of commoners, rejecting the fear of tomorrow. Officials ceased to shy away from the people for fear of becoming too powerful...

The fear of disappointing punishment and irreversible retribution returned to the bureaucracy a true understanding of its previously unconscious or forgotten high mission of serving the people - and the president himself has been embraced by this mission for the 17th year already.

For how long? One would like to believe that the intoxicating and heady smell of power is dispelled by the time of great transformation...

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