Open letter to Central Election Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan


August 31st, 2013

Attn: Mr. Mazahir Panahov — Chairman of CEC of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Baku — Azerbaijan,
AZ 1115 1E S.S. Akhundov
Tel  994 12 5634008
Fax 994 12 5627009


CEC of the Republic of Azerbaijan — Departments
Head of Secretariat Mr. Rovzat Gasimov
Head of Legal Department Mrs. Irade Hajiyeva
Head of International Relations Department Mr. Rashid Yusifbayli
Head of Department of media and public relations Mr. Azer Sariyev
Head of Organization Department Mr. İsmail Abbasaliev


Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Security Council,  Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS),  OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, U.S. Department of State, MFA of Russian Federation, MFA of the State of Israel, MFA of Georgia, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance ( ECRI), The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM – 90 countries), Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS), Association of Non-Commercial Organizations in Defense of Voters’ Rights (GOLOS), European Platform for Democratic Elections, Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH — 178 Human Rights organizations throughout the world), Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM), Human Rights House, Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD), Avocats Sans Frontières, Memorial, Spiritual Diplomacy, Minority Rights Group International (MRG), Global Witness, Human Rights Data Analysis Group, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Protection International (PI), International Institute of Human Rights (IIDH), International Justice Mission (IJM), International League for Human Rights (ILHR), International Service for Human Rights, International Society for Human Rights (ISHR), The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN – 64 Human Rights organizations in 30 countries), Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), Reporters Without Borders (RWB), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Human Rights First, Freedom House, Human Rights Observers, Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), Transparency International, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), Armenian Assembly of America, Front of Respect, Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC),  World Jewish Congress, Euro-Asian Jewish Congress,  Veterans Union of disabled soldiers and partisans from the war against Nazism,  Association of Israeli Survivors of concentration camps and ghettos, Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel


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Dear Mr. Panahov!

On June 3rd, 2013 I publicly announced my will to participate in Presidential Elections. I have been a citizen of Azerbaijan since 1969, currently living in Jerusalem, Israel. My documents were sent to CEC in the middle of July by registered mail (No. RR226897285IL)On August19th, 2013 I informed the CEC of Azerbaijan by email and by fax that I wished to start the process of registration as a candidate for Presidency. According to the Constitution of Azerbaijan the candidate cannot hold the second citizenship. I asked to notify me in writing on my new civil status before the cancellation of my second citizenship, since I applied for registration with the Passport of the USSR (1988). I resent my letter once again on August 21st, 2013 by fax with transmission verification report and then contacted CEC a few times by email and by phone, but my application was simply ignored by the CEC, therefore, my election rights were violated according to all national and international laws.

Election Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan states that the Central Election Commission during preparation and holding of Presidential Elections shall register presidential candidates and ensure equal conditions to all candidates for Presidency. This behavior shows that CEC of Azerbaijan interprets selectively the norms and principles of the national and international law, introducing new methods of falsifications, showing disregard for opposition and misleading the international community.

I wish to inform you, Mr. Panahov, that CEC was not the first in this line of violations. Over the past few months, the Internet has been filled with defamation materials against me, fabricated for political reasons. Overwhelmingly biased pro-government Azerbaijani media launched a massive campaign from the first day when I made the announcement related to my participation in Presidential Elections. Contrary to the Constitution of Azerbaijan those journalists, talking “on behalf of all Azerbaijani people”, attacked me on ethnic grounds for the very fact that I am willingly taking part in political life of my homeland. Blaming me for being ”Russian, Armenian, Jewish”, somehow they forgot my mixed blood relations also with Ukrainians and Americans, and non-blood “kirvya” relations with Azerbaijanis…

The Azerbaijani media published “opinions” and lies of anonymous people closely related to administration of well-known Israeli international NGO, funded by Heydar Aliyev Foundation and working under the umbrella of top rank politicians and governmental structures. My copyrighted pictures from “Breaking the Wall» Hollywood film shootings were stolen and used by those “journalists” as “illustrations”. My personal computer and email account were hacked. I received personal threats to life and security, based on ethnic grounds (my grandfather was a soldier, fallen in World War II against Nazism). The calls “to smell the Armenian blood” came from citizens of Israel, both ethnic Azeris and Jews, publicly on official website of the same Israeli NGO, and witnessed by hundreds.

Azeri regime in most cynical way has turned ideology of Nazis in a form of racial hatred and prejudice against Armenians into state propaganda. State-authorized violence, such as “warning in advance”, harassment and other attacks are widely used by Azeri government against civil society, oppositional journalists and politicians.

But this time a red line has been crossed.

The situation when Israeli NGO, backed by government officials, disseminates social pathologies such as racism and intolerance, encourages the irrational hate toward people with Armenian roots, and glorifies terrible crimes (Safarov case) on their official pages, will not be ignored. Incitement on ethnic grounds is a crime that poses a threat to national security of the State of Israel.  All above-mentioned incidents are under control of the Israel’s State Attorney’s Office and investigated by Israel Police.

The United Nations was founded in 1945 after World War II to maintain international peace and security. How could dictatorial regime of Azerbaijan with Nazi ideology of explicit racial hatred be elected a UN Security Council member?  How could dictatorial regime of Azerbaijan with Nazi ideology purchase arms for billions of dollars despite the arms embargo of OSCE?

It is much easier to commit crimes when all activities are kept secret. Ordinary people’s fear of possible “revenge” allows the hypocritical and corrupt officials to remain unnoticed.

Oil money can buy many things in this world, but honor, dignity and courage are not for sale, as they belong to the realm of Spirit.  Our grandfathers — Russians, Armenians, Jews, Azerbaijanis, Ukrainians, Americans and those of many other nations —  united once against the evil of Nazism, and they won. When in 21st century the reincarnated Nazi ideology raises its head, we say — Never Again!  “We, the peoples”, a new generation — grandsons and granddaughters of veterans — will stay united once again to confront the evil in 2013, just as our grandfathers did in 1945.

In order to make sure that violations of law will stop once and for all after the results of investigations have been made public, civil society should name the names of those responsible for the crimes, point to institutional failings that facilitated them and establish new social norms and moral standards that will both address past injustice and prevent future crimes.

Dear Mr. Panahov!  I wish to thank the CEC of Azerbaijan for what it has done for the Azerbaijani people. It tried, by not registering me as a candidate for Presidency,  to protect the dictatorial regime, but, in fact, de-legitimated it. Elections that accompanied with violations of the laws and international norms cannot be considered free, fair and democratic. This behavior is disrespectful not only to the people of Azerbaijan, but also to the standards of the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other international organizations.

Azerbaijani people deserve a happy, wealthy, peaceful and purposeful life, free of fear, violence, police brutality, impunity, corruption and limitations of civil liberties. Since 1993 they have been deprived of their right to make decisions about important things in their lives. Extensive social structural changes, reallocations of resources, strengthening of civil society, transparency and accountability of all governmental institutions will enable all citizens to enjoy their full rights. Party of Love will inevitably become a nationwide party, because the real natural resources of Azerbaijan are not oil and gas, but rather love, compassion and tolerance in Azerbaijani people’s hearts. These treasures worth more than billions – they are priceless.


Milana Gorenstein, LL.B

International Lawyer, Journalist
Former Member of Board of Directors of Amnesty International /Israel/
HM Queen Maria II of Jerusalem and of Nagorno-Karabakh

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