Media monitoring in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 20-24 November, 2023
Friday, November 24, Azerbaijan. The assistant director of Abzas Media, the third from the publication, has been sentenced to 4 months in arrest
● Muhammad Kekalov, assistant director of the popular publication Abzas Media, has been sentenced to 4 months of preliminary arrest. This marks the third arrest of a site management representative on smuggling charges. All journalists vehemently deny the accusations. Read more here
● A summit commemorating the 25th anniversary of SPECA begins today in Baku. The presidents of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Prime Minister of Hungary have already arrived in Baku. SPECA is a special UN program for the countries of Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Azerbaijan.
● Early this morning, another 25 families (72 people) of internally displaced persons left for permanent residence in the city of Fizuli.
● In the southern region of Azerbaijan, 10 students were infected with measles; in the Kurdamir region (middle zone of the country), a four-year-old child died of measles.
● In Barda, the second-floor of the house where the funeral ceremony took place collapsed (pictured). 27 people were injured, and one woman died.
● The celebration of the 900th anniversary of Azerbaijani architect Ajemi Nakhchivani is included in the list of anniversaries to be celebrated within UNESCO in 2024-2025. The Azerbaijani architect of the 12th-13th centuries is considered the founder of the Nakhchivan architectural school of the Seljuk Atabek era.
● Air tickets for flights from Baku to Tbilisi have sharply dropped in price. The current price is about $53, whereas recently it reached $150 or more.
Friday, November 24, Armenia. Armenian and Azerbaijani border delimitation commissions confirm bilateral meeting
● The border delimitation commission between Azerbaijan and Armenia confirmed a meeting on November 30, in the border region between two countries.
● “We hope that Armenia does not change the vectors of its foreign policy and remains our ally and strategic partner,” stated Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for President Putin.
● Nikol Pashinyan met with European ambassadors to discuss joint programs with the EU, Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, displaced people’s humanitarian issues, regional security, and more.
● A second victim died in the Yerevan State University explosion, bringing the total number of victims to two.
● Iraqi President Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid visited the world’s largest Yazidi temple in Armenia.
● The opening ceremony of the Youth World Boxing Championship took place in Yerevan, featuring over 500 athletes from 57 countries.
● Goris plans to illuminate rocks to boost tourism, with lighting changing based on the time of year, according to the regional administration.
Friday, November 24, Georgia. “Europe has once again demonstrated its strong support for Georgia,” the president and speaker of parliament said
● “Europe has once again demonstrated its strong support for Georgia,” commented President Salome Zurabishvili on the European Parliament resolution regarding the murder of Tamaz Ginturi by Russian military forces. The resolution attributes the incident to Russia’s occupation of Georgia. Read more here
● Speaker of Parliament Shalva Papuashvili expressed gratitude to the European Parliament “for condemning the murder of Tamaz Ginturi by Russian occupation forces and for sending a strong signal in support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia.”
● “The parliamentary elections in 2024 will be decisive not only for Georgia but also for Europe as a whole,” stated European parliamentarian Andrew Kubilius in a video address to the general meeting of the United National Movement party (created by Saakashvili) in connection with the 20th anniversary of the “Rose Revolution.” 20 years later: how is the Rose Revolution viewed in Georgia?
● European Parliamentarian Anna Fotiga, in a video message at the same meeting, mentioned that “the time of the Rose Revolution in Georgia brought great hope and joy not only for you but also for us, those who lived through the struggle for freedom and independence in Central and Eastern Europe.”
● Politician Gigi Ugulava, former mayor of Tbilisi, called on the opposition to unite: “If we want to fight, we need to put an end to the chaos and disagreements.”
● Luxembourg became the opponent of the Georgian national football team in the playoffs of the selection for the European Championship 2024. The match will take place on March 21, 2024, in Tbilisi. The winner of this match will play for qualification to the Euro on March 26 with the winner of the other semi-final pair: Greece-Kazakhstan.
📷 Georgian national team
Thursday, November 23, Georgia. 20 years of the Rose Revolution
● Today marks the 20th anniversary of an extraordinary event in Georgia’s modern history. On November 23, 2003, opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili and supporters stormed the parliament, ending Eduard Shevardnadze’s 11-year rule. Analysis of the “Rose Revolution” achievements and failures here
● On the 20th anniversary of the Rose Revolution, Saakashvili’s National Movement party, which governed until 2012, released an 11-point manifesto titled: “Russian oligarch or Georgia? All-out attack on the system.” The manifesto emphasizes the party’s political vision and ideology, asserting that the government is under the influence of a Russian oligarch, fostering a sense of helplessness and slavery. The document calls for an all-out attack on the system with a main focus on a firm European course. The manifesto is set to be signed at today’s party general meeting.
● Mikheil Saakashvili addresses the party split issue, expressing his role in creating broad unity. What is Georgia’s ex-president tried for? – Read more here
● The European Parliament will vote on a resolution condemning the murder of Georgian citizen Tamaz Ginturi by Russian soldiers in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone. The resolution is described as “very tough towards Russia.” Read more here
● The government unveils a comprehensive de-oligarchization plan, emphasizing stricter rules for financing political parties. Read more here
● The Lelo party is urging inspections of companies established in Georgia by Russians and invites society to join the “Program for Protecting Georgia from Russian Influence.” The nine-point program includes proposals such as implementing a visa regime, prohibiting entry of cars with Russian license plates, discontinuing direct flights with Russia, imposing an “occupation duty” on Russian businesses, banning the broadcast of Russian TV channels, and several other similar measures.
● Injured police officers from March protests appeal to the president not to pardon Lazare Grigoriadis, on trial for assaulting police during protests.
● In response to the police officers’ appeal not to pardon Lazare Grigoriadis, who is on trial for assaulting police during protests, his mother stated, “The police say they are victims, but I think they are liars.”
● President Zurabishvili expresses concern that “Georgia has become a society where young people lack hope for the future.”
● The Georgian government announced direct purchases of modern oncology drugs from Swiss Roche, totaling over $40 million. All cancer treatments, including medications, are now free for patients in Georgia.
● Construction is underway on the longest road tunnel in Georgia at the Rikoti Pass on the strategic East-West highway. The tunnel, measuring 1,800 meters, is being built parallel to the existing 1,722-meter Rikot tunnel. Over 60% (261 km) of highways are now open to traffic as part of a comprehensive reconstruction project.
● Football Federation President Kobiashvili regrets Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s inability to play in the European Championship playoffs’ semi-final due to three yellow cards.
📷 In the photo – a new tunnel on the Rikoti pass
Thursday, November 23, Armenia. Instead of CSTO, Security Council Secretary and Foreign Minister met EU ambassadors in Yerevan
● Yerevan has invited Baku to hold a meeting of the delimitation commissions on the state border, as announced by the Armenian Foreign Ministry.
● Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Iraqi President Abdel Latif Rashid in Yerevan. Pashinyan described the visit as historic, marking the first time an Iraqi president has visited Armenia.
● Catholicos Karekin II also had a meeting with the President of Iraq, expressing optimism that it would bring the peoples closer together and strengthen interstate ties.
● Despite not attending the CSTO meeting in Minsk, Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan and Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan held discussions with ambassadors of EU countries accredited in Armenia and representatives of the European Union delegation.
● Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented that Armenia’s decision not to participate in the CSTO summit in Minsk is regrettable but emphasized that the doors remain open.
● Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated, “There are no longer any obstacles to signing a peace treaty with Armenia.”
● UNESCO has included the centenary anniversaries of Charles Aznavour and Sergei Parajanov in its calendar of notable people and important events for 2024-2025.
Thursday, November 23, Azerbaijan. "No obstacles to signing a peace treaty with Armenia" - Ilham Aliyev
● A severe fire broke out early this morning at a Baku construction materials market, resulting in one fatality.
● President Ilham Aliyev declares no obstacles to signing a peace treaty with Armenia, expressing Azerbaijan’s readiness for dialogue.
● A delimitation meeting is scheduled on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border for November 29-30, according to Caliber, citing its own diplomatic sources. “The parties will attempt to resolve delimitation issues independently, without intermediaries,” the publication reports.
● Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó visits Baku, purpose undisclosed.
● “Russia is not surprised by Baku’s strong criticism of France’s actions,” stated Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “Both in Baku and in several other places, there is fatigue with Paris’s intrusiveness, which is unsuccessfully attempting to rehabilitate its political reputation in the South Caucasus, despite challenges in other parts of the world and on other continents.”
● Moscow hosts a meeting discussing real estate investment possibilities in Azerbaijan, attended by representatives from various sectors.
● President Aliyev approves a $100 million allocation for construction work in earthquake-affected Turkish Kahramanmarash.
● Azerbaijan unveils the new AH-12.7 heavy machine gun at the SPECA exhibition.
● In Azerbaijan, organ transplantation operations have commenced under the compulsory health insurance program for the first time. Since August, there have been 21 liver transplants, 15 kidney transplants, and 1 bone marrow transplant.
● Iran’s border violation is recorded, with border guards discovering 10 kg of methamphetamine and 85 kg of opium.
● Four Pakistanis attempting to enter Russia via Azerbaijan are detained; Azerbaijan’s land borders have been closed since March 2020.
Wednesday, November 22, Azerbaijan. The director and editor-in-chief of Abzas Media are under a 4-month arrest during the investigation
● The court has decided to arrest the founder and director of the popular publication Abzas Media, Ulvi Hasanli, and the editor-in-chief, Sevinj Vagifkyza, for 4 months during the investigation. They are accused of smuggling, a charge the journalists vehemently deny. Read more here
● Ilham Aliyev called on France to apologize for its colonial history, accusing Paris of maintaining over 13 territories as colonies and interfering in their internal affairs. The President of Azerbaijan made this statement at the international conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku.
● “The masks are off! There is no longer a place for USAID to operate in Azerbaijan,” said Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant to the President of Azerbaijan, criticizing Samantha Power, the head of the American organization, for USAID’s treatment of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons.
● Baku called on Washington to “take an objective position regarding the processes in the South Caucasus,” adopting a statement on the “Armenian Protection Act,” previously approved by the US Senate.
● Azerbaijan joined the memorandum on the creation of a green energy platform, along with Romania, Georgia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the EU.
● The minimum living wage for 2024 in Azerbaijan has been approved at 270 manats [$159] per month.
● The chief adviser to the executive power of the Absheron region, Mirgasim Mirishli, was detained while receiving a bribe of 25 thousand manats [about $15 thousand] for approving construction work on agricultural lands.
● Cases of measles have been reported in several regions of Azerbaijan, all among unvaccinated children, according to the Ministry of Health.
● The XVII annual cross-cultural festival “St. Petersburg Theater Seasons” has started in Baku, with over a hundred Russian artists participating.
● In Azerbaijan, a coin from the times of the Ganja Khanate is being sold for $9 million (pictured). The silver coin, weighing 4.5 g, was minted at the mint of Ganja Khan Muhammad Hassan in 1764.
● Today, AFFA will decide on the future fate of the head coach of the Azerbaijani national football team, Italian Gianni de Biasi. After a crushing defeat to Belgium with a score of 0:5, Biasi called Azerbaijani journalists “stupid” for asking “inappropriate” questions.
● The Azerbaijani women’s chess team took second place in the European Championship for the first time in history (pictured).
Wednesday, November 22, Armenia. The minister of defense will also not go to Minsk for the CSTO summit, as will the PM and the foreign minister
● The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that the Armenian side has presented its sixth proposal for a peace agreement to Azerbaijan.
● Defense Minister Suren Papikyan, along with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, will not attend the CSTO summit in Minsk.
● Vice Speaker Hakob Arshakyan stated that Armenia is not considering refusing cooperation with the CSTO. He explained, “Armenia refused the CSTO assistance package since the organization does not define its zone of responsibility clearly.” Read more here
● Pashinyan’s party is establishing a political school, with the concept and opening timing discussed at a meeting of the ruling “Civil Contract” board with the Prime Minister.
● Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid is on a regional visit to Yerevan.
● The Yan Girls group, representing Armenia at Junior Eurovision, completed its first rehearsal on the French stage. The competition will take place this Sunday, November 26th.
● Another underground laboratory, presumably operated by an Armenian citizen and a foreigner, was discovered where hemp was grown and drugs were produced.
Wednesday, November 22, Georgia. The opposition considers its goal to get 40 percent of the votes in parliamentary elections
● Giorgi Vashadze, leader of the opposition Aghmashenebeli Strategy party, outlines the coalition’s political goals with the United National Movement party, aiming to secure victory in the 2024 parliamentary elections by obtaining 40-45% of the votes.
● EU Ambassador to Georgia Pavel Gerchinsky expresses hope for EU countries to agree with the European Commission’s recommendation to grant Georgia candidate status for EU membership.
● The President of Abkhazia signs a decree restricting the work of foreign non-governmental and international organizations in the republic. Read more here
● Chairman of Parliament Shalva Papuashvili warns the president that “pardoning Saakashvili would be a mockery of the victims of his crimes.”
● State-owned 12,858 square meters of agricultural land and a building, transferred for 50 years without charge to parliamentarian-basketball player Viktor Sanikidze’s company. The area is located in Tbilisi’s Saburtalo district, reports the non-governmental organization Waste Detector.
● Director Tinatin Kachrishvili’s new film, “Citizen Saint,” was not included in the Tbilisi International Film Festival program as the author did not apply. Tinatin Kachrishvili is one of the directors who did not join the protest of film industry representatives against the Minister of Culture’s policy. The film is nominated for the 2024 Academy Awards (Oscars).
● The honorary award at the Tbilisi International Film Festival goes to outstanding Georgian director Nana Georgeadze and Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa, a major representative of modern auteur cinema.
● The snow jam on the highway from the Russian border at the Verkhniy Lars checkpoint has been cleared, but traffic remains blocked due to road expansion work (pictured).
Tuesday, November 21, Azerbaijan. Abzas Media director faces a criminal case, while the editor-in-chief has been arrested.
● Ulvi Hasanli, founder of Abzas Media, faces a criminal case for smuggling, carrying a potential prison term of 7 to 12 years, according to his lawyer Zibeyda Sadygova.
● Abzas Media editor-in-chief Sevinj Vagifkyzy was detained upon landing in Baku, with a search conducted at her apartment. The cause for the arrest remains undisclosed.
● Activist Mahammad Kekalov, associated with Abzas Media and known for fashion shows for people with disabilities, was detained in Baku. JAMnews covered one of these shows here.
● A bill proposing the creation of the Agderin region, comprising parts of Kelbajar, Terter, and Aghdam regions, has been submitted to the Azerbaijani parliament.
● President Ilham Aliyev stated that Baku awaits a response from Yerevan regarding comments on the draft peace treaty, emphasizing the delay of more than two months.
● Accusing Paris of playing a destructive role, Aliyev asserted that Armenia is essentially a puppet of the French government. “The armament of Armenia, as publicly stated by France, will not aid Armenia if it decides to start a new war,” declared Ilham Aliyev.
● The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported the discovery of over 10,000 anti-personnel and 3,000 anti-tank mines in liberated territories. Among the discovered weapons were drones.
● Rashid Beglaryan, implicated in the Khojaly massacre, has been detained, leading authorities to a mass grave site near the Askeran fortress. Read more here
● The preliminary investigation into Armenian serviceman Gagik Voskanyan, charged with terrorism and illegal border crossing, concludes; the trial begins on November 30.
● In Azerbaijan, pensioners and social benefit recipients can enjoy discounts on non-cash payments with bank cards for goods.
Tuesday, November 21, Armenia. Aliyev urged Yerevan not to delay its response to Baku’s proposals for a peace treaty
● Yerevan and Brussels have signed an agreement on the status of the EU observation mission on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
● Armenia has requested its CSTO allies to remove the document on assistance to Armenia from the agenda.
● The socio-political movement “Miasin” plans to initiate the constitutional process for a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The movement will seek support from the parliamentary opposition, as the initiative must come from them.
● Aliyev urged Yerevan not to delay its response to Baku’s proposals for a peace treaty and referred to the Armenian authorities as “a puppet of the French government.”
● Armenia is on the right path, according to the office of the Ukrainian president. Zelensky’s adviser Mikhail Podolyak stated, “The strategy that I now clearly see in Armenia’s position is an intensive dialogue with NATO countries – Great Britain, the USA, France, with whom dialogue has always historically been good.”
● Nikol Pashinyan met with British Minister for European Affairs Leo Docherty in Yerevan.
● The first snowfall occurred in Armenia. Overnight, rescuers freed 9 transport units from different areas trapped in the snow. 19 people received assistance.
Tuesday, November 21, Georgia. Saakashvili's uncle declared "the inevitability" of a military solution to conflicts for Georgia
● The Russian military illegally detained another Georgian citizen in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone near the occupied village of Zemo Artsevi, as reported by the security service. The abducted local resident has been freed and is now in territory controlled by the central government.
● Temur Alasania, the uncle of imprisoned ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, stated, “Territories captured by force cannot be reclaimed through peaceful spells.” He added, “Where in history have you seen this? Well, let’s hang all the icons around our necks, take a big candle in our hands, walk around Abkhazia three times, repeat: ‘Go away, devil’ – and it will return to us. It won’t work like that,” Alasania said ironically at a meeting with Georgian immigrants in the USA.
● The response from Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the ruling party, to these statements is: “They want to repeat the disaster of 2008 in Georgia” (referring to the August war with Russia around South Ossetia). But neither Temur Alasania nor his sister’s son (meaning Mikheil Saakashvili) can afford this now,” stated Kobakhidze.
● The prime minister instructed the minister of justice to develop a construction amnesty project that will address individual houses built without proper documentation on privately owned land.
● The split continues in the leading opposition party, the National Movement. Its leader, Levan Khabeishvili, again spoke out against the former leader Nika Melia, stating, “He is actually expelled from the party by his own decision. Those who do not sign the unity manifesto at the general meeting on November 23, those who have other goals, will receive a serious response.” Party founder Mikheil Saakashvili, speaking remotely at his trial, said that he was taking upon himself the coordination of the National Movement.
● Mikheil Saakashvili addressed the president: “Salome Zurabishvili can sign my amnesty, return the father to my children, and, most importantly, restore political balance in Georgia.”
● Giga Bokeria, leader of the opposition party “European Georgia,” commented on the split in the “National Movement,” describing its continued presence among the opposition leaders as a gift for the Ivanishvili regime. Saakashvili’s statements were deemed to have no value by the party.
Monday, November 20, Armenia. The OSCE PA session took place in Yerevan for the first time. Azerbaijani and Russian delegations declined to participate
● The OSCE PA session took place in Yerevan for the first time. Azerbaijani and Russian delegations declined to participate.
● OSCE PA delegates in Yerevan faced a protest, with activists expressing “Shame!” for “the silence on political prisoners in Armenia and the illegal detention of Nagorno-Karabakh representatives in Azerbaijan.”
● “Baku’s current actions resemble an attempt to prepare for a new war and aggression against Armenia,” stated Nikol Pashinyan.
● Counselor of the Iranian Embassy in Armenia, Seyyed Ali Fallahi, participated in the Drift 2023 automobile cup, driving a lap alongside a race car driver. In the 5th stage of the competition, racers from Armenia and Georgia participated.
●Elida Kocharyan clinched gold at the European Youth Boxing Championship (under 22 years old).
● The Armenian delegation headed to Nice for Junior Eurovision 2023 – Public Television, with the Yan Girls group representing Armenia with the song “Do It My Way.”
Monday, November 20, Azerbaijan. "Does UNESCO have no intention to document the destruction in Agdam caused by the Armenian side?" - Nigar Arpadarai
● Today, Azerbaijan celebrates Agdam City Day, liberated from occupation on November 20, 2020, during the second Karabakh war.
● In Zabukh village, Lachin district, 25 families (91 people) of internally displaced persons relocated for permanent residence, bringing the total village residents to 382 people (96 families).
● Ulvi Hasanli, founder of Abzas Media, disappeared on the way to Baku airport this morning. Editor-in-chief Sevinj Vagifkyzy suspects detention, and his whereabouts remain unknown.
● “UNESCO requested to visit Karabakh. Baku agreed for a trip covering Agdam and Khankendi to document Agdam’s destruction done by the Armenian side. However, UNESCO refused and preferred only Khankendi to assess Armenian monuments. Does this suggest UNESCO avoids documenting Armenia’s destruction in Agdam?” – Nigar Arpadarai, Azerbaijani Milli Majlis deputy and PACE member, on social media.
● “It’s become a tradition for Armenian officials to make baseless and contradictory statements rather than taking practical steps in the peace process with Azerbaijan,” said FM spokesman Aykhan Hajizadeh in response to the Armenian PM’s speech at the OSCE PA meeting in Yerevan. He highlighted the inconsistency in Pashinyan’s statements about mutual understanding on basic principles, border demarcation, and the absence of territorial claims while suggesting that Baku is preparing for war.
● Azerbaijani Defense Ministry denies involvement in the injury of an Armenian serviceman, dismissing it as “disinformation.”
● Azerbaijani national football team loses away match against Belgium 0:5 in the European Football Championship qualifying cycle. An anthem mix-up was rectified after the Swedish anthem played instead of the Azerbaijani anthem at the start of the game.
Monday, November 20, Georgia. Protest against the issuance of a license to a Russian oligarch for business in the forests of Racha
● In the Tsalenjikha region of western Georgia, a hurricane tore off house roofs, uprooted trees, damaged power line supports, and left several settlements without electricity. Villages like Chala and Jvari were particularly affected.
● Protests are mounting against the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture’s decision to grant a license to Russian oligarch David Khidasheli for business activities in vast forested areas in the mountainous region of Racha. Local residents were unaware of the decision until media reports surfaced. Despite the oligarch’s intent to sell the license, the “Save the Rioni River Valley” movement and locals demand its complete cancellation.
● Nika Gelenidze, a 31-year-old Georgian fighter, became the fourth casualty in a week in battles against Russian aggression in Ukraine. He participated in evacuating bodies near Bakhmut. Since the war’s onset, 57 Georgians have lost their lives, and two citizens have been captured.
● Opposition leader Elene Khoshtaria (Droa party) reported insulting banners hung near her house, echoing similar incidents outside Girchi – More Freedom party leader Zurab Japaridze’s residence.
● Due to the risk of snow avalanches, vehicular movement on the Gudauri-Kobi section, part of the highway from the Verkhniy Lars border checkpoint with Russia, has been completely halted.
● Poachers illegally cutting down forest in Zot village, Chokhataur region, western Georgia, attacked forest service officer Temur Mgaloblishvili. A criminal case has been initiated.
Formula TV channel’s photo depicts the aftermath of the hurricane in Tsalenjikha.
Media monitoring in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 13-17 November, 2023