Eldar Bayramli, a graduate of Azerbaijan State Oil Academy, used to work as a technician at the Ministry of High Technologies’ Data processing Centre. He spoke to Meydan TV by Skype about his experiences at the ministry, where he was forced to resign after he refused to become a member of the country’s leading political party: YAP or the New Azerbaijan Party.
My working conditions were bad for my health. In my office there were different kinds of equipment, a number of which gave off small doses of radiation. 3 air conditioners worked in the room in order to keep these devices from overheating. I’ve decided to speak to Meydan TV because despite the fact that I have a university – level education and speak several languages, I have not received a promotion in the past 5 years. I passed an accreditation exam several times, but without any result. I was supposed to have received an extra 20 AZN because of my results on those tests. My salary is only 140 AZN. But the Ministry decided not to promote me so as to save itself those 20 manat. You can get a promotion only if you have someone supporting you at the level of the presidential administration or in the National Parliament. And this regardless of education level. Unfortunately, I don’t have such a supporter, and each time I was denied recognition of my qualifications. Aside from 2 – 3 other people in the office, everyone else is in a similar position. And those 2 – 3 people earn their money in dishonest ways. They stole what was rightfully ours.
Eldar, in the past week, information about your 5 year stint in the Ministry of High Technologies was published in the media. Is this something new for you?
In Azerbaijan, the communications and information technlogy secotr is the most profitable after the oil industry. According to information I read recently, the Ministry is also entirely corrupt, and collects bribes of up to 800,000 manat per month. Before the crisis, it was upwards of 1 million dollars. And all of this went to the minister and his deputies. Now the question: wouldn’t it have been possible to instead promote employees and share this money with them? There are people that have been working in the communication industry for years that have no apartment, land or cars. They live in poverty. A simple example: the mother of one of our colleagues recently passed away. Their family is so poor that at the mourning ceremony we couldn’t even find a chair to sit on. This just shows the level of poverty of the employees. Where else in the world do you have such conditions?
Ali Abbasov is known in society as a scientist and an intellectual. However it recently came out that his monthly expenses were as high as 200 – 300 thousand manat. People were confused. What can you say about this? (Ed. Note: Ali Abbasov was the Minister of Communications and High Technologies from 2004 – 2015.)
I have no qualms against Ali Abbasov and his deputies, it is rather against the system. Yes, Abbasov is corrupt and the testimonies of his deputies confirm this. Those deputies are also members of YAP – New Azerbaijan Party. The logic of the YAP states that members must flock and gather around the most ‘intellectual’ and influential members of the party. For that reason they consider themselves a leading party. Moreover, the problem here is not about Ali Abbasov himself – the problem is that even if he were to leave, another person would replace him in a second. I want to say that I don’t believe a new minister would bring any changes. Because the system is corrupt from deep within, and thus my protest is not against anyone in particular, but against the arbitrariness and corruption of the system. As well as its ability to humiliate and destroy people.
The Data Processing Center where I worked was a more lucrative position than other offices – but my salary was only 150 manat per month. That of Ali Abbasov, however, was 300,000 manat per month. His deputies have confirmed this. If you compare those numbers, it is a difference of 2000 times. The difference between a minister’s wages and those of his employees may be 5, 8 or even 10 times as large. But 2000? Where else in the world is there such a wage difference? My education level and intellectual capacity is not lower than that of Ali Abbasov or his deputies. I can prove that I have more practical and theoretical experience in the field than they do.
Did other employees protest this outrageous difference?
The situation was so complicated that many simply accepted it as part of Azerbaijani realia. Anyone who did protest was fired or had their salary decreased. Just imagine, some people were fined their monthly salaries for protesting. The office I worked at was paying a 50,000 manat monthly bribe to the ministry.
Was there any pressure on becoming a member of the YAP during your working years?
Of course there was. I quit my job because of the burden of this pressure. There were pressuring us to become YAP members. I asked them, what law states that I must be a member of YAP?
Their answer was: write a notice of resignation.