“Do we need parks or jobs?”

“The head of the Executive Power in the city of Sumgait decided to demolish shops on the


street. They haven’t told us why they’re doing this. We haven’t built these places on our own. We have ownership papers, but there is no court decision to demolish them,” business owner Rovshan Ismayilov says.

According to business owners in this city, the local authorities made them pay for public services, such as fixing street lights and repairing roads, out of pocket.

Ismayilov says that more business demolitions may follow. “This chain of shops is similar to a domino effect. Once the first is down, the rest will follow.”

Many of these small business owners returned from Russia, where they worked in sweatshop conditions to bring some savings back to Azerbaijan and launch their own businesses.

Enterprenuer Zahir Mammadov says: “We have gone through so much in Russia. We worked in blood and sweat, cold and hunger so that we could bring some money home and build something here. And now they say these shops will be demolished.”

The shop owners question the legitimacy of the decision made by the head of the executive power, Zahid Garalov, and claim that they should have received an advance warning and compensation. The closures will impact not only the owners but their employees and their families as well.

“If each of these employees is a breadwinner for five people on average, look at the huge impact this project will have on people. So what will happen to those people? What will they eat?” one of them says.

One of the employees, Tamella Aliyeva, wondered: “Do we need parks or new jobs?!”

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