The Embassy of Azerbaijan in Serbia has organised a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which on 28 May 1918 became the first democratic and secular republic in the Islamic world.

The Embassy of Azerbaijan in Serbia has organised a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which on 28 May 1918 became the first democratic and secular republic in the Islamic world.


- Nasimi Bey, Eldar Hasanov was arrested as a suspect in the investigation into a corruption operation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). What do you think is the real reason for this arrest?

Nasimi Mammadli- This arrest is one of the most unexpected arrests in recent years. Especially for the first time since independence, a diplomat, an ambassador is arrested. Although the official statement of the law enforcement agencies indicates the misappropriation of budget funds, there is no doubt that this is not the real reason.

Although there are dozens of people who have been fired for bribery, corruption, and embezzlement of large amounts of budget funds, none of them has been arrested so far. I do not believe that the decision was made to arrest the ambassador on the officially announced charges. Here, political and other reasons are not excluded.

Eldar Hasanov is one of the influential figures of Heydar Aliyev's team. When Heydar Aliyev came to power, he was first appointed First Deputy Prosecutor General in 1993, and then Prosecutor General in 1995. The most scandalous and numerous political arrests in the history of independence were made during his tenure as a prosecutor. He was one of the most loyal cadres of Heydar Aliyev’s political course. During his tenure as ambassador, he remained loyal to the government, and we have not witnessed any special mistakes made by him.

We do not have solid facts to tell the real reasons for this arrest. But there are some possibilities. The first condition underlying the government's new political course is to get rid of the rich. Anyone who does not voluntarily donate large sums of money to the general fund may end up in prison. There is also a risk of arrest for anyone who could interfere with private plans for the sustainability of the government. My opinion is that the arrest of E. Hasanov and other officials is primarily due to a violation of these principles.

- Eldar Hasanov has always been known as a person with political ambitions. His arrest is also interesting in this regard. Can this arrest be described as the result of a confrontation within the government? Or are there other political reasons we do not know?

- To be honest, I find it difficult to say what Eldar Hasanov's political ambitions are. There are no serious facts to substantiate such a claim. He used to work as a prosecutor general and followed all the instructions of the government. We have not seen any criticism of the current government in his speech at least once. Despite various allegations against him, he himself has not taken an open position in this regard. He did whatever the government told him to do. E. Hasanov has neither tried to run in the parliamentary or presidential elections nor taken any open or secret initiative to create a political party or exert political influence on the government. He was one of the highest officials who acted in accordance with special standards and frameworks established during all periods of power.

In fact, I do not take seriously the allegations of any serious confrontation within the government. It is not right to present the competition for a position between certain officials with great material wealth as a confrontation. Sometimes the government itself seemed interested in such discussions. But the reality is quite the opposite. There are no clans, groups, or conflicts within the government. If this has ever happened, that period of competition is long over.

Specifically, Eldar Hasanov was a very cautious person and could not be seen in any competition. There are no serious facts or hypotheses to link the reasons for this arrest with the confrontation within the government.

- One of the interesting points is that this incident took place against the background of the arrest of the members of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) in Azerbaijan, alienation from Russia, and further rapprochement with Turkey. Given that Eldar Hasanov is said to have friendly relations with Abbas Abbasov, a former Deputy Prime Minister currently living in Russia, who was named in the founding of the Union of Billionaires. Can Eldar Hasanov have anything to do with these events?

- First of all, it is not realistic that alienation from Russia will lead to a radical change in the government's foreign policy. Although the government is currently dissatisfied with Russia, it is temporary. Because the most reliable political support of the government in the region and in the world is Russia. It is not yet possible for the current government to radically change this factor. The government's political support within the country is very weak. The deepening of tensions in relations with Russia without the mobilization of the country's national forces in a democratic way could be a tragic end for the government. In fact, Russia is not worried because the rapprochement with Turkey is not systematic and deep. Russia also understands that the Turkish and Azerbaijani governments need to make such an indirect political-military maneuver at this stage. Let's not dwell on the details of this issue. I also do not exclude the role of these external factors in E. Hasanov's arrest.

Although there is no specific connection between the arrest of APFP members and the arrest of E. Hasanov, there is a general connection.

By general connection, I mean that the decision on these arrests was made at the highest levels of government. The government makes such arrests against anyone or organization they deem to be a threat. At the same time, these arrests clearly indicate the intention to create fear in certain active social groups in society.

- There are reports that Serbia sells arms to Armenia. Eldar Hasanov was the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Serbia. Maybe he was aware of the sale of weapons and is punished for not preventing it in time?

- This argument cannot be the basis for his arrest. No ambassador has such opportunity or authority to influence the political and military relations of the accredited state with other countries. Or no ambassador may be responsible for it. Embassies have persons responsible for special information and their activities are coordinated by the country's special service bodies. Russia has also been the largest arms seller to and supporter of Armenia for many years. If there was a practice of punishing the ambassador for this factor, our Ambassador to Russia would have been arrested a long time ago.

- There are those who say that such political arrests will continue and will cover the government as well as the opposition. Is it possible?

- After the 2016 referendum, the government is pursuing a policy of security and sustainability. Although we do not explain the whole essence of this policy, we can touch on some specific details. Here, the bottom line is that such a fate is awaited by anyone who has the ability to influence certain groups in society, who has amassed large sums of money, who can mobilize public discontent, who has the experience and power to direct protests, and who is likely to pose a problem for the government. Although we do not know exactly when the government will target which individuals and bodies, we cannot rule out that it will happen one day.

- There are those who say that Eldar Hasanov is one of the backers of the swearing media abroad. Is it possible to assume that this rhetoric is in his political line?

- We can neither refute nor confirm such claims. No one should be slandered. I personally do not believe that E. Hasanov will support such an activity. What could he earn by doing this? Nothing. It is impossible to gather political power, influence anyone, or make serious changes with swearing rhetoric. It is unrealistic for an experienced person to try to use such a tool.

- Why do you think the government carries out such high-ranking political arrests? What is happening in the country?

- The system of socio-political relations in the country continues in a complicated and contradictory way. There are problems in all areas and they are growing.

Let me explain it with rhetorical questions by being brief. Are there any problems in the country? Yes. Who created these problems? Existing governance. Who should solve it? Government. Does it solve it? It does not or cannot. How long is it possible to live with problems? Of course, it is impossible to continue like this forever, there is a limit.

The government cannot change itself with radical reforms or solve problems. Tensions and dissatisfaction in society are growing day by day. The authorities believe that these arrests, tortures, and persecutions can deepen the fear and they can gain some time.

At the same time, the government may have other private concerns. It is as if some serious problem hidden from the public has caused deep concern and anxiety in the government. The recent reluctance to reorganize governance and structural reforms have exacerbated the crisis.

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