https://www.turan.az-The letters-appeals of the President of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan (ANAS) Ramiz Mehdiyev, which he published on the website of ANAS, surprise the society with the argumentation characteristic of a European liberal politician, though for 49 years Mehdiyev was an ideologist of Soviet and Azerbaijani authoritarianism. His Ph.D. thesis, defended in 1972, was entitled “V. I. Lenin on the relationship between nationalism and opportunism.” In four articles published in August 2020, Mehdiyev criticizes the Azerbaijani press for lack of freethinking, warns of Armenia’s intention to exploit the weaknesses of Azerbaijani society, points out the importance of a developed civil society, and warns his critics with prosecution.Ramiz Mehdiyev should concentrate on his direct responsibilities and head the ANAS; but he plays the role of an active public, democratic figure. What made the President of the Academy turn so decisively 180 degrees? This is an interview with Gunel Safarova, the chair of the Public Association for Research and Development “Citizen», who investigated the activities of Mehdiyev.
– On the day when the wedding of R. Mehdiyev’s granddaughter was held in Novkhani, which ended with fireworks, despite the well-known ban on public events due to the pandemic, other weddings were also held in the country. However, the attention of the police, and then society, was focused only on Mehdiyev’s villa. He is outraged that his relatives were handcuffed and shown in this form to the people, but the organizers of other weddings were not punished. Do you think Ramiz Mehdiyev is being attacked by the authorities? What for?
– Indeed, on that day and on the eve there were other weddings and birthday parties. Only Mehdiyev was punished. The dismissal of Ramiz Mehdiyev from the high position of the head of the Presidential Administration, the decrease in his influence on the decision-making process at the management level indicate that a new process has been taking place in his relation over the years. I would like to touch on other points. In the last video, transmitted to the social network and filmed at the wedding of Mehdiyev’s granddaughter, his son-in-law says a toast and points to the Mehdiyev clan, the son-in-law clan, the clan of the new relative of this family, indicates the great importance of Mehdiyev in their elevation. It is very dangerous to pursue a policy of division into clans and tribes. Unfortunately, such thinking has not only academician Mehdiyev and his entourage. The easiest way to get rid of such an ideology is free elections and freedom of thought, the formation of independent courts. So far, the Azerbaijani authorities are not interested in this.
-All his active life Ramiz Mehdiyev has persecuted free press and journalists. In his subordination were law enforcement agencies, which were used as a punitive mechanism. Suddenly in August, he accused the journalists of duplicity, unwillingness to tell the truth. How to understand this?
– The media and social networks have expressed enough opinions about the well-known statements of Ramiz Mehdiyev. First, I want to take a little trip to his extensive articles published in 2009 and 2014. In 2009, the respected academician wrote, “At present, Azerbaijan occupies one of the leading positions among the CIS and Eastern European countries in terms of the number of media outlets. Today, about 4,000 media outlets in Azerbaijan are registered with the relevant state body. There are hundreds of newspapers in the country, magazines, news agencies, 11 radio channels, 8 nationwide, 14 regional and 13 cable TV channels. However, at the same time, according to the Media Freedom Index of the international organization Reporters without Borders, Azerbaijan ranked 146th among 175 countries.
Let’s pay attention to another interesting point: in an interview in 2009, the academician said that “the deepening of liberal values in society, the process of democratization, as well as the strengthening of pluralism of opinions, freedom of speech and information have become important factors that determine the independence and free activity of media structures.” Mehdiyev writes about the consequences of liberalism, democracy in color revolutions, the “fifth column” and NGOs. Ramiz Mehdiyev cited examples from Gene Sharp’s articles “From Dictatorship to Democracy” and “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action”, arguing that people, that the source of power is people, that the idea of changing the government by creating elected or transitional authorities in the West is considered “controlled chaos”, “the right of the people to revolt.” I would advise the academician to read the book “Civil Defense” by Jean Sharp, published in 2016.
Mehdiyev devoted his academic article to promoting the idea that it is necessary to obey any authority as legitimate, and promotes the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, which is based on the principle of obedience. Mehdiyev does not discuss other philosophical trends of that time. Today he writes about human rights, justice, forgetting his previous statements.
– Mehdiyev in his article discusses the role of civil society in the development of Azerbaijan. What did he say about this before, when he was in command of the main structure of power?
– In the last article, the academician emphasizes the role of civil society institutions. We will have to recall again his speech in 2014, where he praised the law restricting the activities of NGOs. Throughout his article, the author called NGOs “American agents, corrupt structures, a tool for an uprising, the 5th column,” and even revealed the mechanism for obtaining grants.
Yes, USAID is the main donor of American Funds in Azerbaijan. At the same time, USAID monitors and evaluates project management. This organization has played an extraordinary role in the creation of civil society in Azerbaijan. We have not forgotten which of the deputies, ministers, and people in power received grants from the NED, NDI, and Soros Funds. We can remind him of the recipient of the NDI grant.
I would very much like the experts to read and analyze the academician’s speech. It is interesting that among the statements of Ramiz Mehdiyev, not only after leaving office, but also at different times, there are big disagreements and contradictions. I do not want to associate all the internal political processes taking place in Azerbaijan, the expression of will in the Karabakh issue, the people’s distance from the government’s processes, the emergence of political tension and all problems only with Ramiz Mehdiyev. This is the fault of the entire system. However, the Academician must not forget that he was the founder of this system.
– As the President of ANAS, R. Mehdiyev was not obliged to be engaged in political articles, he could deal with science. However, he published four articles and was actively involved in politics. Why did he need it?
– Ramiz Mehdiyev was one of the main pillars of this power. His participation in government, including decision-making, is not the people’s choice. The academician still manages his team and has weight in parliament. In this regard, it is natural to write articles and give explanations on important social processes. Because he is still part of the system. His messages are not addressed to the people. It is addressed to the country’s leadership, a new team. Mehdiyev says clearly that the government should work based on the old rules in the system that he established. “You cannot change anything,” Ramiz Mehdiyev tells them.