Our Analytics 5 february — 12:48

Through West's eyes: 'authoritarianism in Azerbaijan' and 'democracy in Armenia' (Leading article)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

Instead of a foreword

The world is rapidly plunging into the political Middle Ages: the fire of a protracted revolutionary spring, feudal local wars with imperialist taste, military juntas and riots, the absolutisation of power, a predatory struggle for national wealth and means of production... A large blazing fire covers all space: from Latin America to the Middle East. The world has become unpredictable, the faith in a stable tomorrow has been shaken, and the liberal government institutions that once symbolised divine political justice have recently become just a mythical chimera, a false invention, an empty idea, a dispelled dream.

Feudal world of modernity is engulfed in the fire of wars and revolutions

The new world rests on the ashes of holy political impeccable writings: the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the European Convention and many other pillars of the deceased human super-civilisation. And once the tragedy of one person, the tears of one child or the violence of one combatant could hit and disturb the whole world. Alas, the ruthless medieval realities again violated human peace. A quarter of a century ago, who would have allowed the very idea of the reality of the crusades and world battles for Jerusalem, the victorious march of the eastern armies along the Levant, the unceremonious invasion of the armies of some states on the territory of weak and defenceless countries? The global post-Yalta system of checks and balances is not only rotted, but also collapsed, which we wrote and reasoned about several times, and the resulting legal vacuum and nihilism legitimised the right of the strong. Now any state crime is justified by national interests.

Let us turn to the logic of behaviour of powerful countries. For example, the United States may one day issue a death verdict to a member of the government of another country. And kill him. This is not a terrorist attack! What are you talking about? Just a preventative measure and the fight against terrorism.

Main thing is not murder, but the interests that cover this very murder

...And all this is legitimate, because it is explained by the primacy of national interests.

You can kill politicians, but you can't imprison them!

Such a lengthy, verbose, but exhaustive foreword to the factual side of our story is explained by a deep awareness of the current international situation around Azerbaijan. And the question is not the fragile construction of the format of the Karabakh settlement process, which can be brought down by one of the irresponsible and arrogant statements of the adventurous Pashinyan. And not the unpredictability of the superpowers, which rejected the imperative rule of law in favour of the primacy of geopolitical interests.

In this case, we are talking about new attempts of a deliberately false interpretation of the domestic policy of Azerbaijan. After the liberation of the main persons involved in high-profile political affairs, the notorious scandalous issue of amnestied political prisoners was supposed to leave the agenda of nominal European international organisations that came to light under one world order, and function under a completely different one. The European Union is refusing to expand to the East, and its appendage, the Council of Europe, is still pursuing the goal of expanding democratic and liberal freedoms to the East. Some absurd impasse, in which there is a chain of countries still connected in this community by the rules of political etiquette: the states remain in the meaningless organisation out of politeness or for reasons not to leave the podium for the enemy. And then the Council of Europe again turned its attention to Azerbaijan, more precisely, the problem of political prisoners in Baku. Someone counted 130 political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

If an Islamist was arrested in an unnecessary country, then this is an ominous repression

And the vast majority of the 'victims of repression' are participants in the expanded political Shiite Islam, who do not hide their true intention: dismantling the secular constitutional system, the green revolution and the creation of a theocratic regime, like in Iran. Of course, one can indulge in long and lengthy liberal discussions about the contradiction of the right to self-expression with a threat to the constitutional system. Especially after the assassination of one of the leaders of the permanent Shiite world revolution, Qassem Soleimani. Note: murder without a trial!

The question is: then, following the logic of European politicians who supported the assassination of Soleimani, you can physically eliminate politicians, but you can't take legal measures in accordance with criminal and procedural legislation? But most of the prisoners, whose release European politicians demand, are followers of Haji Taleh and other Islamist leaders who called on their supporters to overthrow secular authorities and create an Islamic republic!

This Islamist is good, he is against Aliyev

Suppose this argument does not work. And, according to European logic, what is not allowed to the leaders of Shiite Islam in Iran is allowed to Shiite leaders in Azerbaijan. But how to explain the complete disregard for politically motivated arrests in Armenia? Paradoxically, at the same time that European parliamentarians were discussing the problem of Islamist prisoners in Azerbaijan, a wave of arrests of opponents of Pashinyan and new leaders of the Armenian civil society swept through Yerevan.

The Case of Narek Malyan

Of particular interest and concern is the cause of the founder of the new socio-political movement 'Veto,' Narek Malyan. This movement appeared on the first wave of frustration with the new Armenian revolutionary 'government of love.' Narek Malyan and his associates accuse Pashinyan and his 'Soros entourage' of betraying the national interests of Armenia. It is 'Veto' that acts as the organiser of the protest movement and mass rallies in Yerevan. Narek Malyan is a classical centrist, liberal, human rights activist and investigator of high-profile state crimes in Armenia, in which influential names from Pashinyan's entourage are involved.

Narek Malyan is 'not our son of a bitch,' then he is bad

Over the past six months, Narek Malyan has attracted public attention in Armenia with three powerful actions: protests against the dominance of American tycoon George Soros, who is manipulating the new government with the help of 'telephone law' and 'overseas directives'; mass rallies in support of Armenia's political prisoner number one, Robert Kocharyan; and his high-profile investigation of systemic drug trafficking and import into the territory of Armenia from neighbouring Georgia in cars with diplomatic numbers of a large load of illegal drugs.

Finally, in mid-January, Malyan, live on Facebook addressed extremely unpleasant questions to the head of the National Security Service of Armenia, Artur Gagikovich Vanetsyan. Malyan's appeal occurs immediately after the unexpected resignation of Pashinyan's adviser Arsen Kharatyan. Narek Malyan asks the head of the special services about the reality of the rumours circulated in the state apparatus that Arsen Kharatyan was involved in the supply of large quantities of drugs from Georgia to Armenia. A civilian activist asks the head of the NSS to investigate the participation of Kharatyan in the organisation of the drug trade. At the same time, according to Narek Malyan, the adviser to Pashinyan imported drugs in diplomatic cars, and the Armenian ambassador to Georgia was also involved in this criminal drug transit scheme.

Finally, Malyan demands the initiation of a criminal case and a detailed scrupulous investigation of the facts provided by him. What happens next?

Well, after that the Pashinyan government and special services arrange mask-show for the very troublemaker of Armenian calm. One would expect that in a legal and democratic state, the construction of which Pashinyan claims from a high rostrum, a civil activist would certainly be invited by special services and investigative bodies, talked to, asked about the sources of such important information. However, they behave towards Malyan in the best traditions of a rampant dictatorship. Armed masked men in camouflage uniforms in broad daylight forcibly abduct the civil activist. This sad news was reported to the Armenian public by ex-MP Migran Hakobyan. And, as it turned out later, masked machine gunners who detained the activist were employees of the so-called Sixth Directorate: the Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime of the Armenian Police. The kidnapping-arrest of a politician causes a storm of indignation and a flurry of emotions in Armenia.

Malyan also called Soros an earthworm

But neither the US embassy in Armenia - the largest in the world, with personnel of several hundred employees - nor European organisations notice the disappearance of Narek Malyan. They perceive this confusing story with human rights as somehow uninteresting and unattractive. Human rights? But Malyan is a critic of Soros, whereas Pashinyan himself is a friend of the latter. And one does not meddle in the internal affairs of friends. Another thing is Azerbaijan, mosque and Shiites. 'You will never understand them. For them, Armenia is one of the first Christian states in history. They are their own,' assured us the well-known Russian journalist Dmitry Dibrov. And what arguments can we object to Dibrov with after the incident with Malyan?

But that is not all. The story of Malyan's arrest is still booming. The Armenian civil society, frustrated by the indifference of the Americans and Europeans, is at a loss: why the Pashinyan's government turned its terror against a political figure? Someone is sure that this is revenge for the charge against Arsen Kharatyan of sponsoring the drug trade. Someone believes that Malyan was punished because of his zealous criticism of the all-powerful Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan. But a certain part of society is convinced that the civil activist was ordered to be detained by the head of the Soros Foundation in Armenia Larisa Minasyan. In any case, the head of the human rights organisation 'Legal Way,' Ruben Melikyan drew attention to a very strange coincidence. On the day of Malyan's arrest, the head of the Armenian branch of the Open Society Institute Larisa Minasyan was preparing to hold a press-conference. And Minasyan herself several times filed complaints with the police against Malyan, who regularly held pickets in front of this Institute with a demand to close the Soros organisation in Yerevan.

Malyan also raised the martyr portrait of political prisoner number one

The question is: if Malyan was really suspected of a serious crime - possession of weapons - why under pressure from the public was the Armenian police forced to release him a few days later? More so, why was this unsightly act of intimidation needed? Military expert Karen Vrtanesyan could not hide his indignation: 'Just the other day, during the detention of an armed man who attacked the Erebuni Plaza business centre, the police did not use handcuffs. Why is there such aggression here?' Malyan was not summoned to the police; he also did not receive summons from the Investigative Committee. That is, the law enforcement bodies of Armenia did not even have a formal reason for forced detention. Activist of the human rights organisation 'Media Protector' Sergey Chamanyan beets the alarm: 'While the terrorist is politely invited to the official car of the police chief, the civil activist is forcibly detained on the street, knocked to the ground and stuffed into a car.

Case of 'Adekvad' organisation (arrests of Artur Danielyan, Konstantin Ter-Nakalyan, Azat Adamyan and Grigor Minasyan)

The blatant bacchanalia and arbitrariness in the Malyan case, alas, is not the only example of the rising second wave of political repression in Armenia. Back in 2019, civil society activists, led by well-known public figure Artur Danielyan, established the 'Adekvad' informal organisation. Being extremely worried and outraged by the new turn in Armenian politics after the first manifestations of the authoritarianism of the management style of the new head of government, the aforementioned political activists sharply criticised the activities of Pashinyan.

Artur Danielyan. The price of freedom of speech is drug possession charge

Danielyan began to openly declare that Armenia faces serious challenges and problems in domestic and foreign policy and the current government has lost the ability to adequately respond to challenges and potential threats. That is why these figures announced the creation of the 'Adekvad' (adequate) movement, as if unobtrusively and very subtly hinting at the inadequacy of the head of government. The Pashinyan government responded quite bluntly to this attack, immediately suppressing critical voices. In June 2019, Danielyan and the founder of the website bloqnews.am, the author of critical articles, Konstantin Ter-Nakalyan, were thrown into jail. Western organisations, international human rights institutions, as if conspiring, stubbornly silently met the second wave of repression in Yerevan. Pashinyan found stiff and desperate resistance only in the person of the Armenian civil sector. And he was forced to retreat. Activists were released.

However, immediately after the arrest of Narek Malyan, a second wave of repression hit Danielyan. The leader of the 'Adekvad' initiative was again arrested, and this time on the basis of serious and, of course, fabricated charges. Danielyan and his four associates are accused of illegal possession and sale of drugs. The detention of activists was broadcast live: they were also taken quite toughly, using mask show and handcuffs.

The US Embassy in Armenia, representatives of European organisations did not notice this high-profile political scandal. High institutions of political morality have not seen in this case special fundamental violations of human rights.

Repressive flywheel found Samsoyan too

Samsoyan's case

Along with the loud and alarming arrests of opponents of the raging Pashinyan authorities, another critic of the Armenian government, Narek Samsoyan, announced threats against him.

N. Samsoyan is the leader of the civic organisation 'Civic Consciousness,' editor of Antifake, a consistent critic of the current 'government of love.' A few days ago, Samsoyan began to receive threats demanding to stop criticising Pashinyan and well-known figures of the government. Otherwise, Samsoyan was promised political revenge. 'The other day, Pashinyan will begin a new series of arrests. The Führer has already decided to arrest us — those who were brought to police the last time — and instructions have already been given. Besides us, well-known politicians will be detained and arrested. Arguments and explanations have also been prepared in connection with the detentions and arrests, but we are also not sitting idly by,' writes Narek Samsoyan on his page...

Instead of an afterword

If one wishes, one can continue the description of politically motivated arrests in Armenia, which is being choked with new repression. And, of course, the brutal suppression of civil liberties could form the basis of a dramatic report by the Council of Europe on mass violations of universal freedoms. However, for some reason, in the field of vision of Western and pro-Western international organisations only the Azerbaijani government remains, to which the only serious threat emanates from political Islam. What equal and partnership relations with the West can be discussed if there is an open segregation approach: suppressing tangible problems in countries such as Armenia, and on the other hand thoughtful, motivated and aggressive pressure on Azerbaijan?

What else should the West do regarding Azerbaijan so that our government realises the openly hostile spirit of pro-Western international organisations that purposefully form a 'feudal image of autocratic Azerbaijan'? Final goal? Shatter the ground under our feet, legalising the reputation of a rogue power, drive it into a corner, treading, discrediting until it reaches the point of no return...

Paradoxically, the waves of political repression in Armenia passed by our pro-Western opposition too, literally touched by the revolutionary liberal image of Pashinyan. On the contrary, the opposition cultivates the image of Pashinyan, imitating his struggle, setting an example for post-Soviet informal leaders. Has the Azerbaijani opposition been banned from discussing the transformation of a liberal into a despot who raised his sword on the achievement of the Armenian revolution?

But let our last question be a refrain. Some political circles in the West, apparently, do not allow the idea of partnership or allied relations with Azerbaijan: how else to explain the conspiracy of silence around Armenia, the hiding and concealment of the problems of this country against the background of the outbreak of an open confrontation with official Baku?

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