A protest organized by the government of Azerbaijan has been taking place in the corridor of Lachin for about 40 days. The participants of the action claim that their demand is to stop the illegal exploitation of mineral mines in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. They say that this activity harms the environment and requires ecological monitoring in the area. It is reported that Russian peacekeepers who are stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh are preventing the monitoring.
The action, which has been going on for more than a month, has worsened the living conditions of the Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian media writes that the population in the region is in a state of blockade and the only road connecting Khankendi (what Armenians call Stepanakert, which is de-facto capital of Nagorno-Karabakh) with Armenia is closed, causing food shortages. In addition to Armenian media, international media organizations too – CNN, Axios, Der Spiegel, Time, The Economist, French Press, New York Times – covered the situation in the region.
CNN reports that potatoes have become a luxury food for the population there.
On January 18, Armenian media outlet CivilNet wrote that the government of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic began issuing food coupons. The reason for this decision is food shortage.
Azerbaijan’s official state media and pro-government news agencies regularly publish information about the unimpeded passage of vehicles belonging to peacekeepers from the place where the actions are taking place. President Ilham Aliyev too said in his meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda in Davos on January 18 that the Lachin-Khankendi road is open for the passage of civilians and civilian goods.
Why no one believes that the action is held by eco-activists?
Azerbaijan State Television and official news agencies, as well as pro-government media, claim that the participants of this action are eco-activists and NGOs specialized in the field of ecology.
Since the start of the campaign, more than 50 reports and live broadcasts have been aired on state television alone. Mikroskop Media monitored those broadcasts and, based on the monitoring, it became clear that the vast majority of people and NGOs participating in the action were not involved in ecology, but in completely different areas – women’s rights protection, sports, support for soldiers’ families, etc.
At the same time, the majority of those organizations are the winners of the tenders held by the State Agency of Support for Non-Governmental Organizations a few months ago. A total of 400 NGOs won the tender “Issues of Science, Education and Culture and Propagation of the Idea of Azerbaijanism”, the results of which were announced in July 2022.
NOTE: There are only two NGOs specialized in the field of ecology in the mentioned report and live broadcasts. Both of them received a grant from the government for the Environmentally Clean Village Campaign-Practice Implementation Project (SEMA Eco Social Economic Development Support Public Union) and the Monitoring Project for Cleaning Household Waste (Environmental Education and Monitoring Public Union), respectively 8 and 6 thousand AZN.
Other NGOs and their winning projects:
- Public-Political Processes and International Relations Scientific Research Center – for the organization of events themed “Shusha – 270 Years” – granted 10,000 AZN
- Khankandi Support for Displaced People – the filming of a documentary film titled “War – In search of a Family” – 9500 AZN
- Support for Soldier Families – the creation of a TV material and website themed “meetings on the topic of protection of rights of martyr families and veterans” – 9500 AZN
- Hilal Social Research Public Union – the promotion of the state symbols and war victory among the youth – 8000 AZN
- Women Lawyers Association – the organization of meetings on the topic of fight against domestic violence – 7000 AZN
- Support for Innovative Enlightenment of Women and Children – the organization of meetings on the topic of eradication of violence against women – 7000 AZN
- Promotion of Genocide Truth – the enlightenment of the youth on the Convention “on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” – 7000 AZN
- Municipality, Resource and Training Center – the issue of early marriages in the development of society – 5500 AZN
- For Dialogue and Progress Public Union – the protection of national values at the age of globalization – 5500 AZN
- Support for People with Disabilities and Those In Need – the enlightenment of the disabled on how to correctly use prostheses and other supportive gear – 5500 AZN
Other people and organizations participating in the action are not specialized in the field of ecology, either. Among them are representatives from regional branches of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party. List:
- Enlightenment of Citizens Public Union
- Goychay Martyrs Families Care Society
- World Union of Young Turkish Writers
- World Association of Business Women PU
- Scientific and Cultural Development of Youth PU
- Organization of Integration of Azerbaijani Youth to Europe
- Public Union of Young Interviewers
- Fuad Heydarli, instructor of NAP Sabail district organization
- Agrarian Development Volunteers
- Union of Voluntary Organizations of Azerbaijan
- Honored medical worker Jamila Mammadova
- Baku State University Volunteers
- Migration Volunteers
Kalbajar, which was regained by Azerbaijan as a result of the 44-day war in September-November 2020, has underground wealth and ore deposits. According to the order signed by Ilham Aliyev on May 29, 2021, the Gashgachay, Elbeydash and Agduzdag ore deposits were leased to Turkish companies for a period of 30 years.
The decree states:
“In accordance with the normative legal acts of the Republic of Azerbaijan regulating relations in the field of subsoil use, the Qashgachay ore deposit “Eti Bakir A.S.” company, Elbeydash and Agduzdag ore deposits “Artvin Maden A.Ş.” company for study, research, exploration, development and exploitation purposes for a period of 30 years.