Azerbaijan's President Doesn't Really Get Twitter. He Doesn't Really Get Azerbaijan, Either

aliyev twitter

Image from @presidentaz Twitter account.

Whatever country Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev is tweeting about, it can't be Azerbaijan.

In Azerbaijan, innocent men and women are thrown into jail on trumped up charges. Corruption is so ingrained that the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting project named Aliyev as its Person of the Year in 2012. Public morale is low, people live in a constant state of fear, and the dominant regime rigs its way to victory at every election. Nor are things good with the neighbors: the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, more than two decades old, isn’t about to resolve itself any time soon.

But one man sees Azerbaijan through a different lens. Ilham Aliyev, who inherited the position of Head of State from his father, Heydar Aliyev, is not only of the opinion that Azerbaijan is doing well, but that it is winning on every front – politically, economically, and most importantly, militarily. To share his opinions Aliyev takes to Twitter where one can find him under @presidentaz. For anyone familiar with Azerbaijani realities, the presidential feed is bitterly ironic, if at times darkly entertaining.

Aliyev Putin

A Twitter user speculates as to what Russian President Vladimir Putin is telling Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

The persons in charge of President Aliyev’s Twitter account seem to have little knowledge of the platform and its aim. The president's tweets often end in (cont) and a link to the “Twit longer” app, more or less defeating the purpose of Twitter. Elsewhere in the post-Soviet world, authoritarians have figured out that succinct means success in social media. But Aliyev's feed reads like one long speech regularly interrupted by a pesky 140 character limit. Often the tweets on his English-language feed lack grammar and appear to contradict themselves.

Most problematically of all, though — the feed is full of lies.

Azerbaijan is probably the freest country in the world

One of the topics Aliyev is happiest to tweet about is freedom and how much of it Azerbaijan has. Apparently, plenty:

Religious rights organization Forum 18, disagrees, noting: “freedom of religion or belief and related human rights such as the freedom of expression and of assembly remain highly restricted” in Azerbaijan. 

Again, the ongoing crackdown in Azerbaijan paints a different picture. 

Aliyev's critics maintain the country’s leadership has ensured no such media exists. So-called “linkages between the government and society” come in the form of cheap shows about dating, marriage, and news segments that have very little respect for journalism.

Reporters Without Borders rated Azerbaijan 160th out of 180 countries in its 2014 Press Freedom Index.

We love peace but we are always ready for war. Always.

It is hard to say which stability @presidentaz is talking about and what is meant by the general reference to the “region”. The conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh has simmered since before independence, boiling over in sporadic border fights between the two countries.

In early August @presidentaz caught the attention of the world media by threatening to reignite war with Armenia after the deaths of Azerbaijani soldiers in contested territory.

A global role model

As the country develops @presidentaz believes “the reputation of Azerbaijan is gradually enhancing”. In fact, his government is doing so well, it can serve as an inspiration for other states around the world.

In fighting corruption:

“Collecting money”:

Providing housing:

And ensuring equality:

Finally, if any of that seems like fantasy, @presidentaz reminds readers:

For more continue reading directly from his Twitter account @presidentaz.


  • Metroid

    Typical armenian propaganda

    • akira

      “Our position is based on justice and international law. Our principled
      stance has earned us further respect both in the region and the world”

      Hero’s welcome for Azerbaijan axe murderer

      Ilham Aliyev = liar

      • Gong

        Results of Armenian aggression:

        Refugees and internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan

        Refugees from Armenia – 250.000
        Internally displaced persons from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan – 760.000
        Total – 1 010.000

        The Armed Forces of Armenia deployed in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan
        Tanks – 316
        ACV – 324
        Artillery – 322
        Personnel – 50.000

        Temporary refugee settlements
        Tent camps
        Borders of former NKAO
        Road Gorus-Lachin-Shusha-Khankendi

        The occupied territories of Azerbaijan
        The Nagorny Karabakh area
        Territory – 4 388
        Population (1989) – 189.085
        Armenians – 145.450 (76,9%)
        Azerbaijanis – 40.688 (21,5%)
        Russians – 1922 (1%)
        Others – 1025 (0,6%)

        Shusha region
        Territory – 381
        Population – 20.579
        Azerbaijanis – 19.036 (92,5%)
        Armenians – 1.377 (6,7%)
        Occupied – May 8, 1992

        The regions outside the Nagorny Karabakh area
        Lachin region – May 18, 1992
        Kelbajar region – April 2, 1993
        Aghdam region – July 23, 1993
        Fizuli region – August 23, 1993
        Jabrayil region – August 26, 1993
        Gubadly region – August 31, 1993
        Zangilan region – October 28, 1993

        Victims of aggression
        Killed – 20.000
        Disabled – 50.000

        Destructions caused by the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan
        Settlements – 890
        Houses – 150.000
        Public Buildings – 7.000
        Schools – 693
        Kindergartens – 855
        Health Care Facilities – 695
        Libraries – 927
        Temples – 44
        Mosques – 9
        Historical Palaces – 9
        Historical Monuments and Museums – 464
        Museum Exhibits – 40.000
        Industrial and Agricultural Enterprises – 6.000
        Motor Ways – 800 km
        Bridges – 160
        Water Pipelines – 2.300 km
        Gas Pipelines – 2.000 km
        Electricity Lines – 15.000 km
        Forests – 280.000 ha
        Sowing Area – 1.000.000 ha
        Irrigation Systems – 1.200 km

        The total damage is estimated as exceeding 400 billions US $

        • akira

          your justifications don’t make it better…

          • Gong

            However ignoring, Armenia’s illegal occupation of Azerbaijani territory in violation of UN resolutions, the massacres committed, worse of all in Khojaly, by Armenian troops under the then leadership of the future president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, not to mention the many refugees strewn across the rest of Azerbaijan, doesn’t justify it either.

          • akira

            However, Aliev is still a liar…
            And that’s what this article is about.

      • sara

        The scandal over Safarov does not change the fact that Armenians are land thefts who occupied their neighbour’s territory.

        • akira

          What is this article about?
          Right… Aliev is still a lier…

          • sara

            And your president is a war criminal who took part in the massacre of Azerbaijanis and he boasted about it in an interview to Thomas De Waal in the book Black Garden. Stop portraying yourselves as “victims” and crying about Armenophobia. Return Azerbaijan its lands so that hundreds of thousands of IDPs can return to their homes. Then no Armenophobia will be left in Azerbaijan. We are not the only country you have problems with. Armenia also has territorial claims against Georgia where you are hated even more than in Azerbaijan. Learn to live in peace and not to play on other peoples’ nerves.
            As to Aliyev, I never supported him.

          • akira

            I’m just trying to tell you that Aliev is lying.
            It is very interesting how you try to justify it.

          • sara

            I understand that he is lying. Thank you.

  • Guest

    She is an pro-Armenian propagandist paid by Armenians. No wonder she is regarded as a traitor by Azerbaijanis.

    • akira

      To criticize Aliev = armenian propaganda
      Armenophobia is Alievs best weapon agains freedom of the media.
      The fact is:
      Reporters Without Borders rated Azerbaijan 160th out of 180 countries in its 2014 Press Freedom Index! And this is NO armenian propaganda.

      • Guest

        If your country’s territory was occupied, lost your home and your loved ones and have become one of the 1 million refugees and IDPs in your own country, of course you would feel intense rage and hatred against the occupier. It is the easy way out to brush it off as “Armeniaphobia”. Aliyev doesn’t instigate this as you would like to believe. The facts are all to clear.

        In addition Aliyev doesn’t need to rig the elections, because the opposition is weak and divided, not due to the fault of Aliyev, but because of the constant infighting among themselves.

        Worse of all, some of them actually flirt with Armenia like the person above, which has been a political suicide for them from the start in this country, and which has marginalized and isolated them from the beginning and made them insignificant and very unpatriotic (especially while the occupation lasts and the 1 million refugees cannot return home), not only in the eyes of the society but inside the opposition itself. These people are totally ignored and drowned out as they deserve to be.

  • Sanatescu

    How convient that this so-called “journalist” intentionally and blatantly ignores that Armenia has illegally occupied 20% Azerbaijani land, that the Armenian occupiers have cruelly and violently ethnically cleansed this Azerbaijani land of its native Azerbaijani inhabitants, which has caused 1 million Azerbaijani refugees IDPs in their own country and is causing untold suffering to this day in Azerbaijan. They instigated the Khojaly Genocide,in which hundreds of innocent Azerbaijani civilians – women, children and men – were slaughtered by Armenian soldiers. They have delibaretely destroyed Azerbaijani heritage in Shusha, completely destroyed Aghdam as well,. However not mentioning these facts proves convenient to this hyprocrite blogger, who has no credibility, integrity and any morals whatsoever.

    • akira

      Aliev? You lied again:
      Armenia occupied 9% of Azerbaijani land.
      There is no proof of Genocide in Khojaly.
      And please do not forget to mention that Azerbaijan tried cruely and violently to cleanse Nagorno-Karabakh of all its armenians and did so in Azerbaijan.
      This “hyprocrite blogger, who has no credibility, integrity and any morals” shows you the unpleasant truth of aserbaidschan.
      The best you can do is to accept the truth and try to make it better.

      • Guest

        Just one sided with you as well. The massacre of Azerbaijani civilians is very well an attempt of genocide. It is not the size but their intent, which does qualify as a genocide. And no 20% of Azerbaijani land is occupied. You seem to exclude Nagorno-Katabkah itself, or the lands around it.

        • akira

          I tried to keep the balance :-)

        • akira

          Yes, Nagorno-Katabkah itself is excluded, it is armenian land.
          And there is still no evidence or proof of genocide in khojali.
          If you call the khojali massaker a Genocide then you can call the Sumgait pogrom also a Genocide.
          Azerbaijan has to accept that it lost a war and 9% of its territory.

          This is the truth!
          Your “truth” is an Ilham Aliyev propaganda lie,
          and don’t try to tell me that Ilham Aliyev is not a liar.

          • Guest

            No Nagorno-Karabkah is Azerbaijani land. Meaning 20% of Azerbaijani land is occupied.Even the name Karabakh is Azerbaijani! There is ample of evidence of genocide in Khojaly. That is the truth.
            And from your spelling of “Aserbaidschan” it seems you are a German disguised as Japanese. You are the last people to give “lessons” about genocide.

          • akira

            Saying “That is the truth” is not enough to prove a genocide.
            I’m still waiting for evidence.
            Any problems with Germans?

  • Gong

    Will you write about the authoritarianism, corruption, and human rights abuses of Armenian president Serzh Sragsyan? I don’t thinks so! Because you are a one-sided propagandist.

    • akira

      That doesn’t make it better. Ilham Aliyev is still a liar:
      “We will restore all of the occupied and destroyed cities.”

      Like the cemetery in Julfa? It was still standing in the late 1990s, when the government
      of Azerbaijan began a systematic campaign to destroy the monuments.

      • Gong

        Aliyev is no saint, and yes there human rights abuses and corruption, but Serzh Sargsyan is suspected of commiting war crimes during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. After all he was a military leader there during the war. The buck stops at him, even if he personally gave no direct orders on massacres and ethnic cleansing, but he condoned it as he personally admitted himself more than once. His record is much more darker.

  • sara

    I agree that there is corruption and rights abuses. But describing Azerbaijan’s occupied lands as “contested” territory is sickening. Has the author heard of UN resolutions backing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity? Such Azeris as Arzu Geybulla is the reason why opposition/liberal movement has failed in Azerbaijan. .

    • akira

      “Such Azeris as Arzu Geybulla is the reason why opposition/liberal movement has failed in Azerbaijan.”
      …and not Ilham Aliyev?
      You have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • Guest

        We have absolutely an idea what we are talking about and how you try to distort.

      • sara

        I know exactly what I’m talking about. Most Azeris who support Aliyev do this because of the actions of some opposition activists. Arzu, for example, has described Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized lands as “contested” territoy. This makes people be skeptical about the opposition. Had there been opposition that cared for Azerbaijan’s national interests as much as they care for democracy, they would be supported by masses. I myself do not support this government but it doesn’t mean that I will ignore my country’s national interests.

        • Guest

          There is something we can both agree about.

        • akira

          “because of the actions of some opposition activists.”
          WHO is telling you about the actions of the opposition activists?
          -> A media that is under Alievs control.
          And Arzu is right, it is “contested” territoy.
          As long as no Azerbaijani can talk about a “contested” territoy (thanks to Alievs media) there will be no peaceful solution!

          • Guest

            This is not contested territory, just because Armenia claims it and occupies it illegally in contravention of the United Nations Charter and 2 UN resolutions. This territory is de jure Azerbaijani land and is internationally recognized so. A peaceful solution can only be done while respecting the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, like the Dayton Treaty with Bosnia. Otherwise it will always continue to be a bleeding wound and simmering conflict.

          • sara

            There will be no peaceful solution as long as Armenians do not admit to the crimes they have committed. The international community is trying to to put the occupier/agressor on the same level with the occupied country. That’s what makes us angry. Aliyev’s propaganda has nothing to do with the resentment the Azeri people feel over the loss of their lands. It’s not that Aliyev is shapig our Karabakh feelings. It’s just the otherwise. Aliyev has to pretend he cares for Karabakh to put himself in good favour with people. FYI: I do not watch/follow Azeri government’s propaganda. I work for an internatonal organization.

  • karoaper

    sara, Gong, Guest, and other Azeris who are trying to mislead other readers are “forgetting” to mention that Armenia didn’t initiate the conflict, but was dragged into it when Azerbaijan decided to change the minds of free people of Arcakh (Armenian name for Karabagh), who were seeking self-governence and self-determination through official means (aka through a parliamentary referendum read:, by rolling in tanks and army brigades. After more than year and a half of Arcakh’s people getting crushed by Azeri war machine, did Armenian defense forces get actively involved in the conflict, to protect ethnic Armenians from slaughter and loss of their land.

    Why their land? Because NKAR (Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Region) wasn’t a bone fide region of Azerbaijan. This region had the status of an autonomous region given it because its people didn’t want to be ruled by Baku and demanded some form of autonomy. In fact, were it not for the need to “placate Turkey” Karabagh would have been part of Armenia, as it was populated by overwhelming majority Armenians. This is almost the same kind of autonomy that republics, such as the Azeri republic, enjoyed in USSR. Let me ask the Azeris something? Did you enjoy your right for self-determination and your ability to split from USSR and form your own government. Would you like it if Moscow decided to abolish your status of an autonomous republic and take your right for self-determination. I assume the answer is NO! Than, guess what? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Armenians of Karabagh had the right of self-determination, a right your government tried to take away by force. This forced Armenia to get involved after more than a year to help their ethnic brothers/sisters. So, to summarize, it was Azeris who started the conflict. It was their arrogance and greed that lead to the war and to so much bloodshed.

    And on the topic of UN and whether it sides with Azerbaijan. It is true that UN has ruled that Karabagh is part of Azerbaijan. The reason is simple. UN does not want to set a precedent in place, whereby people who want self-determination can vie for independence and get it. Such a precedent would open the door for all sorts of conflicts and contests at Europe borders. BUT, and it is a big but, let us not forget that the key points of the Minsk Group’s (group set up by UN to resolve the conflict) plan for resolution contains not only reference to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, but to Karabagh people’s right of self-determination as well. So, stop with your reference to UN. It recognizes that people of Karabagh had legitimate rights for self-determination.

    It is time you do too!

    • karoaper

      I realize there are several typos and grammatical mistakes. I didn’t have time to check it.

    • sara

      Just a few facts. The first violence in Karabakh took place when two Azeris were killed in
      Askaran in 1988. Earlier that year Azeris were deported from Armenia. (My
      parents among them). As to Karabakh’s population. 30 per cent of Karabakh were ethnic
      Azeris who had lived there for centuries. Shusha, which we call the pearl of Karabakh
      and which is the cradle of Azeri music and culture, was overwhelmingly Azeri-populated.
      Armenians were settled in Karabakh from Iran, Ottoman lands when Karabakh khanete
      of Azeris was already in place in the 18th century. Your describing Karabakh as an ancient Armenian land reminds me of Israeli claims on Palestine. If Armenians were victims
      defending themselves why did they occupy seven other districts that had nothing
      to do with Armenians turning the cities there into ruins? You were the ones who
      instigated the war because Azerbaijan was weak back then and that was your
      chance to grab lands from us. That’s why Armenians from all around the world came to fight against Azerbaijan. Your famous commander Melkonyan was a California Armenian. By the way, why don’t you declare Glendale’s independence?
      P.S. Please don’t send me Wikipedia articles opened by Armenians by using Armenian sources.

      • karoaper

        Couple of things. First, about the violence in Karabagh, who started it. I will need a news source about the killings of two Azeris, because I can’t really take your word for it. I hope you understand. But, even if that’s the case, what sane person would consider that to be a declaration of war?

        As far as Azeris being deported from Armenia. I have no doubt it happened, and that is sad for the people. That is often what happens when two countries wage war. It’s safer for people who are ethnically from the opposing side to leave. Our neighbors when I was young were Azeris and were good people. But you know something, they left with their belongings, and with their dignity and in safety. Let me tell you who didn’t — Armenians from Baku. They were kicked out of their homes at night by raging mobs. There were countless reports of looting and abuses of human rights, including murders. Armenians were put into busses and protected by Russian solders. They left with just few belongings that they collected in few minutes. In some cases, they left with just the clothes on their backs. This was quite simply a pogrom. Azeris from Armenia didn’t suffer that. Yes, I know about Khojaly, and if such massacres took place by Armenian soldiers, then it is inexcusable, despite the fact that it was a war zone (by the way, Baku was not even close to a war zone, and it was civilians mobs who acted like animals, as opposed to battle weary soldiers). While we’re mentioning Khojaly, let’s also mention the similar massacre of Armenians taking place in Sumgait.

        As far as your second point. Your analogy to Israel is completely flawed. Yes, Arcakh is historical Armenian land, starting with ancient times to middle ages. Only when Iranian Safavid (aka Turkic) Shah decided to relocate Armenians en masse to Iran, did the region, including Yerevan temporarily lose the Armenian majority. This was true perhaps for only 1 or 2 centuries at most, as opposed to Jews who were away from Palestine for close to two millennia. Another reason why the analogy is wrong is because when the conflict took place, Arcakh was already majority Armenian (over 80%), and had a right to claim independence as an autonomous region. If Armenians had decided to drive to Baku and claim it as Armenian land, because in 50BC Armenian Empire had conquered that part, then your analogy to Israel might have been true. Also, what’s the silly thing about taking advantage of weak Azerbaijan. Do you think Armenia was powerful then? We didn’t have electricity or gas during those times. Arcakh Armenians had no advanced weapons. Heck, Armenia had far fewer weapons that Azerbaijan, who inherited ex Soviet bases full of weaponry. Azeri army had military jets, and they hired foreign pilots to fly missions against Armenia. Azeris had Afghan and Chechen fighters. All Armenians had was patriotic diaspora Armenians.

        In summary (and I apologize for the long post), your points are either logically flawed or are irrelevant.

        • sara

          Hi. The killing of two Azeris in Askaran is a documented event. If you want a Western source, you can read Thomas De Waal’s Black Garden book which is based on deep research from both sides. So, the aggression in
          Karabakh was stated by Armenians. As to Azeris in Armenia, unfortunately, not all of them could keep their dignity intact. At least 33 of them were killed in Spitak. All these preceded Sumgayit events. Armenians have one-sided approach to the conflict, always describing themselves as victims. And that’s the reason why there is no prospect of peace so far. Some Armenians even try to prove that they were being persecuted in Azerbaijan and the reason why they fought ‘for their freedom,’ instead of saying that this war was the part of the century-old
          plan to create ‘Greater Armenia’. The truth is, Armenians always held top
          positions in Azerbaijan and were among the richest persons in our country. There are still half-Armenians in the presidential administration today.
          You mentioned Chechens fighting on Azerbaijan’s side but forget to mention the help to Armenia from Russia which is your close ally and friend. Suffice to say that there is a Russian military base in Gyumri. This conflict between AZ and ARM is not an average conflict between neighbors who overcome their differences by negotiations. It’s the conflict of Armenia making historical claims on Azerbaijan and wanting more and more from us. Your page-long comment on history just another poof to this. After KArabakh, there is now a campaign to get Nakhchivan. How are we supposed to trust your ‘history’ if Armenians lie about simple facts of the XX and XXI century?
          You commented about Baku’s history. Did you know that
          Yerevan was given to Armenia by Azerbaijani in 1918? And also the history of Zangazur? I realize that you are different from other hateful Armenians that I had to encounter. But evern you are not givinng the full picture. I also haven’t heard any Armenian expressing sorrow over the expulsion of around 1 million Azerbaijanis from Karabakh and the surrounding districts who lived horrible lives as IDPs. The only way you got away with all these is your strong diaspora and their propaganda machine.

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