Friday Wrap-up: construction budget, a mother denied contact and an EU concern

Illustration: Meydan TV

This week saw Karabakh funds directed to Turkish companies, the mother of a social activist worried about her son’s imprisonment and the EU voices concern over Azerbaijan’s journalist arrests.

Turkish companies receive half of Karabakh construction initiative budget

Azerbaijan has channeled a significant portion of its investment resources towards investments in Karabakh, with over $7 billion allocated from the state budget. Notably, a substantial $3.4 billion of these funds were directed to Turkish companies for their involvement in business ventures related to the reconstruction efforts, as highlighted by Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov.

Prime Minister Ali Asadov emphasized the substantial financial commitment made towards Karabakh and the Eastern Zangezur regions. Within three years post-war, 12 billion AZN from the state budget have been allocated to construction projects. The upcoming 2024 budget plans to further reinforce it, with an additional 4 billion AZN earmarked for these purposes.

The implementation of the ambitious “I State Program on the Great Return” demands a significant financial investment, estimated at approximately 30.5 billion AZN for 2022-2026, aiming to resettle around 34,500 families or 140,000 citizens by 2026.

Detained Azerbaijani activist allegedly coerced, mother denied contact

The mother of Mohyeddin Orujov, a detained social activist, voices concerns over her son’s treatment and lack of communication since his arrest nearly ten days ago. She alleges that her son was coerced, beaten, and threatened to confess to drug-related charges, claiming the drugs were not his. Orujov, facing imprisonment from 5 to 12 years, had previously highlighted police brutality during his detention a month before his recent arrest.

Orujov’s detention on December 13, allegedly for drug possession, followed a prior 30-day administrative detention for supposed petty hooliganism. His family contends that he was called to the police station based on criticisms made online against the President, and upon arriving, he was detained. Despite being released after administrative detention, Orujov reported inhumane treatment, and shortly after speaking out, he was detained again.

The family claims unawareness of Orujov’s recent arrest, discovering it later through unofficial channels, while human rights organizations denounce the defamation and intimidation of activists, citing instances of threats to Orujov’s mother.

EU voices concern over Azerbaijan’s journalist arrests, calls for upholding freedoms

The European Union expresses deep concern over the recent arrests of journalists, political activists, and human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, viewing these detentions as violations of fundamental freedoms and international obligations. The EU specifically highlights the cases of various detained individuals, including journalists Ulvi Hasanli, Sevinj Vagifqizi, Muhammad Kekalov, Aziz Orujov, Rufat Muradli, Nargiz Absalamova, Teymur Karimov, Ibrahim Khumbatov, Hafiz Babali, human rights defender Ilhamiz Guliyev, politician Tofig Yagublu, economist Gubad Ibadoglu, and civil society activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev.

Citing these actions as constraints on independent journalism and freedom of expression, the EU urges Azerbaijan to release those detained for exercising their fundamental rights. Emphasizing the importance of upholding free and unimpeded space for independent journalism, the EU reaffirms its commitment to engaging in dialogue and cooperation with Azerbaijan in the realm of human rights, despite these concerns. The EU aims to work towards ensuring respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law within the scope of its relations with Azerbaijan.

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