On February 6, top-level talks were held in Brussels, with the participation of President Ilham Aliyev, on the draft agreement on strategic partnership.
2. On 21 February, by the order of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Mehriban Aliyeva was appointed the first vice-president of the country.
3. On March 10, Azerbaijan announced the withdrawal from the Initiative of transparency in extractive industries “(EITI).
4. On 28 March, the final blocking of websites criticizing the country’s government began in Azerbaijan: the Azadlig newspaper (azadliq.info), the Internet channel Meydan TV (meydan.tv), the Azerbaijan Radio Liberty (azadlig.org) Azərbaycan saatı “.
5. On May 29, Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli was kidnapped and transported to Tbilisi.
6. On August 8, the Ministry of Taxes put forward a fabricated charge of tax evasion against the Turan news agency, which initiated the whole epic: the arrest of director Mehman Aliyev, his release and the termination of the criminal case.
7. On 11 October, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved two documents and resolutions relating to Azerbaijan: “The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan” and the report: “Steps taken in Azerbaijan in respect of human rights during the country’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe (May- November 2014).
8. On 25 October, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe formally notified Azerbaijan of its intention to initiate legal actions related to the need to ensure the implementation of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ilgar Mammadov.
9. On 15 November, 14 information sites were blocked by the Ministry of Communications at the call of the Press Council, which unfoundedly accused Internet resources of racketeering and introduced them into the so-called “black list”.
10. On December 5, the Minister of Taxation with 17-year-old experience Fazil Mammadov was dismissed.
Summary of the year 2017
Political events of 2017 are marked by two vectors – the growing pressure of the authorities on civil society, as well as the pressure of the West on the regime. This year, the administration of President Ilham Aliyev continued to attack the opposition and independent voices inside and outside the country.
Arrests of political activists, journalists were arrested. In spring, arrested on a fabricated charge of smuggling, the deputy chairman of the Popular front party Gezal Bayramli, the journalist Afgan Mukhtarly was stolen in Tbilisi and sent to Baku by the journalist, and the blogger Mehman Huseynov, channel 13 Orujov executive director was arrested. A special operation was carried out to eliminate the independent news agency Turan and its director, Mehman Aliyev.
The policy of neutralizing free voices continued, which was marked by regular tightening of legislation in the field of media, informatics, arrest of journalists and large-scale and illegal blocking of websites. If in the spring up to five sites were blocked, then in the fall such a blockage was more extensive – more than 20 sites were blocked.
At the end of the year, the institution of representation of lawyers for the protection of citizens in courts and law enforcement agencies was abolished legislatively. This significantly weakened the system of protection of civil activists. In the Bar Association there are about 900 people, of which around 370 are actively practicing and only 5 lawyers go to politically motivated processes.
Only towards the middle of the year after a long peaceful pause, the West renewed pressure on the regime, which was suspended in mid-2016 in exchange for promises of various reforms.
On September 7, the Appropriations Committee of the US Senate approved an amendment to the bill on External Operations for the 2018th fiscal year, proposed by Senator Richard Durbin. It provides for visa sanctions against Azerbaijani officials involved in the arrest of Mehman Aliyev.
On October 10, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved two documents and resolutions related to Azerbaijan: “The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan” and the report: “Steps taken in Azerbaijan in respect of human rights during the country’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe (May-November 2014.)
On October 25, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe officially notified Azerbaijan of its intention to start legal actions related to the need to ensure the implementation of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ilgar Mammadov.
These actions aroused concern in the government circles, which reflected the immediate release of Mehman Aliyev, the termination of the criminal case against Turan, the readiness to resolve the issue of the release of Ilgar Mammadov, and the signing in 2018 of an agreement on strategic partnership with the European Union. However, at the same time, the pressure line on civil society continued, which demonstrated itself in the arrest of Ragim Gaziyev, the defense minister of the early 1990s, and the issuance of punitive decisions by the Press Council against a number of media outlets.
Summing up, we can say that the year ended politically the same way as it began: the persecution and arrest of opponents, the tightening of legislation, confrontation with international institutions and democratic countries, which during the year itwas systematic and consistent.