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A code of ethics is being developed for parliamentarians in Azerbaijan and is expected to be up for discussion in the spring session of the Parliament. As with public servants, ethical norms in MPs’ behaviour, activity, statements, and speeches will be regulated and legally assessed. It will be a ground breaking document concerning the members of the Azerbaijani Parliament.
In recent months, inappropriate statements made by some MPs have caused great discontent in society and led to heated discussions about the media and social networks. Even the leadership of the Parliament has warned the MPs in connection with the statements that have caused outrage.
The latest such incident provoked by tactless speeches of MPs occurred around Astan Shahverdiyev, a ruling party MP elected from the Jabrayil-Gubadli constituency. While commenting on a protest held by IDPs settled in Bilasuvar region, the MP said ‘A group of high and drunk people unhappy with the authorities have risen up… Among them, are the drunkards and the garbage of society… A very negative opinion has been formed in Russia about our Azerbaijani society, you know why? I have studied the reason for this. Who goes to Russia? They are the trash of our culture, for example, those who go to work in the bazaar. These are the same kind of people who have risen up here… Everywhere there are such wastes… The ones we detain are the most rabid (uses a Russian word “ярый” for “rabid”) people. I received my education in Russian, therefore cannot think of its equivalent in Azerbaijani. They are extremely active in such things. They have called on the society to stand up against the state…’ He was strongly condemned for this speech in the media and social networks alike.
After that, the MP had to apologise. The Disciplinary Commission of the Parliament discussed his issue, and he received a warning. The leadership of the Parliament also reacted to the problem.
Prior to this, there had also been similar cases where MPs’ speeches were met by strong disapproval on social networks. For example, Chairman of the Labour and Social Policy Committee of the Parliament, YAP member Hadi Rajabli caused widespread controversy by his comment ‘if a teacher cannot make ends meet, let him go and work overtime as a labourer’. It was also controversial when he objected to the privileges granted to people who were injured in the Karabakh war. Even, speaker Ogtay Asadov warned the committee chairman during that meeting of the Parliament.
Ruling party MP Huseynbala Miralamov’s also caused a significant controversy over his comment, ‘Cut your coat according to your cloth, eat much if you have much, eat little if you have little, there are people who do not eat bread, meat, or fish to stay in shape, the more you eat, the faster you grow old’, which he made in an interview about the social situation in the country.
Agil Abbas, a non-partisan MP from Karabakh, also drew attention with his scandalous and widely criticised complaints about insufficiency of his MP salary of nearly 2,000 AZN. Numerous social network users gave different responses to the MP, reminding him that they had to survive on the minimum salary in the country, which was 105 AZN. Commenting on this fact at a parliamentary meeting, Agil Abbas said ‘they have cursed my late father 932 times’.
It is supposed that the code of ethics being developed is intended to regulate cases like these.