Friday Wrap-up: TikTok’s Return, Baku Metro Fare and Orkhan Hajili’s Arrest

Tourism in Azerbaijan. Illustration: Meydan TV.

This week saw TikTok’s return to Azerbaijan, a contentious debate over a metro fare increase, and Orkhan Hajili’s controversial arrest.

Baku Metro’s Unclear Cost Calculations Raise Concerns of Impending Price Hike

The Baku Metro has come under scrutiny for announcing that it costs 68 kopecks to transport one passenger without disclosing the basis for this calculation.

Hidayat Mammadov, the deputy chairman of “Baku Metropolitan” CJSC, pointed out that this cost exceeds the 40-kopeck fare, indicating that the metro operates at a loss. However, questions linger regarding how this figure was determined and what elements were factored into the cost estimate.

Local economists have expressed skepticism about the metro’s cost announcement, questioning the lack of transparency in the calculation methodology, and the undisclosed components in the cost estimate, such as construction expenses and new wagon purchases. The economists emphasized that raising prices could adversely affect the public, especially given the country’s recent inflation and lack of differential pricing for vulnerable groups.

TikTok Restored in Azerbaijan After Suspension During Karabakh Conflict

The Electronic Security Service (ESS) in Azerbaijan has announced the restoration of access to the popular social network “TikTok” following its suspension during the local military operation in Karabakh, which began on September 19, 2023. ESS has emphasized the importance of citizens adhering to the country’s laws and the rules and conditions set by social network administrators when sharing content on such platforms.

The decision to suspend “TikTok” and impose internet restrictions in specific regions came as a response to the local military operation initiated by Azerbaijan. With “TikTok” now reinstated, the attention turns to the evolving landscape in the aftermath of the conflict and the impact on online activities in Azerbaijan.

Controversial Detention of Orkhan Hajili Sparks Accusations of Political Motive

The arrest of Orkhan Hajili, the son of Musavat Party chairman Arif Hajili, has raised questions and accusations of political motivations in Azerbaijan. Lawyer Nemat Karimli argues that the court’s decision is unfounded, pointing out the lack of an objective investigation and raising concerns about the video evidence surrounding the incident. He questions why the alleged victim appeared after a significant delay and why no search was conducted during that time.

The Yasamal District Court’s decision to impose a 2-month preventive measure on Orkhan Hajili has faced criticism from human rights defenders like Rufat Safarov. Safarov argues that the incident in question did not pose a significant public danger and that the charges, primarily causing minor injuries and leaving the scene, typically do not warrant pre-trial detention for more than two years. He emphasizes the need for a comprehensive investigation into the incident and suggests that the arrest may be politically motivated.

Arif Hajili, the head of the Musavat Party and Orkhan’s father, has denounced the court’s decision as politically motivated and vowed to pursue legal avenues to address the situation, adding to the ongoing debate surrounding this case.

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