Gadabey Protests: President Aliyev blames the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources for the crisis

Photo: Official Website of the President of Azerbaijan (

President Ilham Aliyev addressed the recent protests that occurred in Soyudlu village, located in the Gadabey district, targeting the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources.

The president expressed his concerns during a speech at a meeting focused on the economic outcomes of June 2023, held on July 11.

Aliyev labeled the incident in Gadabey district as “completely unacceptable,” placing blame on the leadership of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. He criticized the ministry for its negligence, lack of control, and passive observation.

The president acknowledged the legitimacy of the Soyudlu residents’ protests, questioning whether anyone had genuinely listened to their grievances. He criticized the ministry’s lack of action, suggesting that it either ignored the problem or was unaware of it.

Referring to those who supported the protests, Aliyev labeled them as “provocateurs.” He warned that the government had identified some of these individuals within Azerbaijan and had already brought several of them to justice. He also asserted that those residing abroad would not be exempt from accountability, emphasizing that Azerbaijan would not tolerate “chaos, lawlessness, or provocative actions”.

Support for the Police and Disregard for Protesters

The president defended the actions of the police, even in the face of criticism for their use of pepper spray on an elderly woman during the dispersal of the peaceful protest. The images of this incident circulated widely on social media, leading to public outrage. Although the Ministry of Internal Affairs initially announced measures would be taken against the officers involved, it later revealed that only false preventive talks had occurred.

Aliyev condemned those who threw stones at the police during the protest, considering it criminal behavior. This was not the first instance of the president supporting the police in similar situations.

Potential Conflict of Interest and Responsibility of the Prime Minister

While the president did not explicitly mention Anglo Asian Mining PLC, the company operating in the area, he hinted at it during his speech.

Aliyev highlighted that the incident had a natural cause, pointing out that the foreign company had come to the region for profit. While acknowledging their investment and job creation, he emphasized that it did not justify the destruction of nature, occupation of people’s fields and pastures, or unauthorized construction of waste lakes. The president called for a thorough investigation into possible collusion between the company and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources.

Furthermore, Aliyev held the Prime Minister of the country accountable, expressing his surprise that the minister had not taken any action without explicit instructions.

The President Praises “AzerGold” and Demands Compliance with Laws

Aliyev commended the state-owned company “AzerGold” for adhering to environmental norms in their gold mining operations. He contrasted this with the alleged disregard shown by the foreign company operating in Gadabay. The president demanded that representatives of foreign companies also be held accountable and invited for discussions with the Cabinet of Ministers. He stressed that any activity posing even the slightest threat to nature and public health should be halted promptly.

OCCRP Investigation and Concerns of the Population

An investigation conducted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Journalism Project (OCCRP) revealed the close connections between individuals in the management of the company and the ruling family, particularly with Hafiz Pashayev, the uncle of Ilham Aliyev’s wife, Mehriban Aliyeva.

The protests in Soyudlu village started on June 20, opposing the construction of an artificial lake using water from a gold deposit. Over ten villagers and a suspected organizer were detained, with some individuals facing charges related to drugs. Non-residents’ access to the village was restricted on June 22, officially citing reasons of public order and security.

The residents expressed concerns about the harmful chemicals present in the proposed water basin, its encroachment on their cultivated fields and pastures, and the subsequent damage to crops, fruits, trees, and human health. They referenced a previous incident in 2012, where a lake resulting from a gold mine’s waste caused extensive harm to their livelihoods and ecosystem.

Arrests and Pressures on Activists

Amidst the protests, the authorities portrayed the events as a provocation, while independent media outlets covering the protests faced targeted attacks. Nazim Beydamirli, who criticized the company’s actions, filed a lawsuit against government media and an MP. However, he was subsequently detained on unrelated charges and sentenced to four months in prison.

Elmir Abbasov, a member of the NIDA Civil Movement, and Giyas Ibrahimov, a former detainee, were also arrested for their social media posts during the Soyudlu events.

The events in Soyudlu village have raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest, government transparency, and the treatment of activists critical of the government’s actions. The situation remains tense, with demands for accountability and justice from both the population and human rights advocates.

ГлавнаяNewsGadabey Protests: President Aliyev blames the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources for the crisis