Several dozen former residents of Baku’s now demolished ‘Sovetsky’ neighbourhood have accused officials of corruption and demanded additional compensation for property which they claim was intentionally excluded from compensation calculations.
At the rally, held in front of the Cabinet of Ministers on 3 March, some residents also claimed that they were violently evicted from their homes and forced to sign a contract of sale.
Demolition of the ‘Sovetsky’ area of central Baku began in 2014, with roughly 6,500 homes and non-residential buildings destroyed over several years. Some families resisted the demolitions, and a number of complaints have been lodged with the European Court of Human Rights
'It was good when our children died fighting in Karabakh right, but why aren't we paid?’ One of the protesters told Mikroskop media. ‘We have been renting for 7 years now. Nobody hears us'.
‘If some of the state officials would sell the villas they bought for our stolen money, this would be enough for everyone,’ another protestor can be heard saying.
Former Sovetsky resident Nazila Zarbaliyeva complained that she and the other protesters feel abandoned. ‘We support our president, yet doesn’t he know about all of the officials that have left us, the Azerbaijani people in these terrible conditions?’, she said. ‘Why does no one care about us?’
An official who presented himself as the chief consultant to the Cabinet of Ministers, met with the protesters, telling them that they could not enter the meeting due to COVID-19 restrictions. He proceeded to claim that he would present the protesters’ issues to the Cabinet.
Police then arrived and ordered the protesters to leave the area in accordance with COVID-19 regulations. Several buses were brought to the protest to facilitate its dispersal.