The closing down of café 26 has been the main topic of social networks in Azerbaijan for two days now
Baku authorities closed down a local café called ‘café 26’, located in the city center, without a court order and carried out its furniture and other property via the assistance of the police. The name of the café is reported to be the reason behind the move, as it presumably alluded to a garden bearing the former name of the 26 Baku commissars.
The 26 Baku Commissars, led by the Bolshevik-Armenian Stepan Shaumian, were idols of Soviet propaganda. The commune was in power in Baku for about 100 days from April to July 1918. After the Turkish-Azerbaijani army entered Baku in September 1918, the commissars fled across the Caspian Sea by ferry to Krasnovodsk (now the city of Turkmenbashi), but were arrested by socialist revolutionaries and shot down as enemies of the Bolsheviks.
The 26 Baku commissars were commemorated by poems and films. The streets of soviet cities were named after them (with one still existing in Moscow). After the Sovietization of Azerbaijan, the bodies of the commissars were transported to Baku and buried in the center of the city. A pantheon was established there and a garden was named after the 26 commissars.
On 8 September, the head of the Baku Executive Power, Hacibala Abutalibov, accompanied by the Deputy Chief of the Baku City Police Department, Major-General Sahlab Bagirov, arrived at cafe 26 and ordered to close the doors and take out the furniture without any court order.
The cafe was on the ground floor of the Writers’ Union building in Sahil Park (formerly the Park of the 26 Baku Commissars). The raid was preceded by information from some online editions and TV channels saying that the café was allegedly named after the 26 commissars.
“The accomplices of the killers who committed the genocide of Azerbaijanis are unfortunately still alive to this day. As a consequence, the figure 26 together with the English inscription “twenty six” recently appeared on the façade of the building of the Writers’ Union. Let the accomplices of the Armenians that have a poor knowledge of the history of their country know that, while the Azerbaijani people are alive, Armenians have no place on our land,” Abutalibov told APA.
Following the statement of Abutalibov, the café was closed along with the removal of the “twenty six” sign, and the property of the cafe was carried out from the premises. The tenant was taken by law enforcement officers to the police station. In his interview to Khazar TV channel, the tenant Ramin Mamedov reported that the name of the cafe had nothing to do with the Baku commissars.
“The number 26 is a lucky number for me. I’m 26 years old and was born on the 26th day of the month. My car license number is 026, and our cafe is inside a house numbered 26. As you can see, the interior carries no signs of any communist propaganda.”
Users of social networks are actively discussing the event. Most of them consider the actions of the city authorities as unjustified.
The following are a few quotes by Facebook users:
“If the law allowed the cafe to function, then no mayor has the right to close it. Otherwise he [the mayor] must be a king, not a mayor.”
“The figure 26 should be banned everywhere, like the number four in Japan. It should be totally erased. Floor 26 in high-rise buildings and day 26 in calendars has to be wiped out, and those born on 26th day should be anathematized.”
“After the statement of Abutalibov I even feel a little ashamed that my grandmother was born on the 26th. My other grandmother, having better political awareness, was born on 27th.”
“Abutalibov must have apparently forgotten that June 26 is the national army day in our country, and that the first lady was born on August 26!”
“There’s a café called KGB in the center of Tbilisi.”