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Azerbaijani Diplomat Criticizes Government On Facebook, Sparking Scandal

  • RFE/RL

"There is no nation that would stand that shame and injustice," diplomat Arif Mammadov wrote on his Facebook page.

"There is no nation that would stand that shame and injustice," diplomat Arif Mammadov wrote on his Facebook page.

An Azerbaijani diplomat could be in hot water after he publicly criticized the government following a deadly Baku apartment-building fire.

Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry has launched an internal investigation into a scandal that erupted over the Facebook comments made by Arif Mammadov, the chief of mission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's delegation to the European Union.

Fifteen people died in the high-rise fire in May, prompting Baku residents to criticize the city's beautification efforts ahead of the inaugural European Games that will be held this month in the Azerbaijani capital.

"There is no nation that would stand that shame and injustice," Mammadov wrote on his Facebook page in May. "Officials earn millions on our people's sufferings, and if they are not afraid of our people's anger, then they must be scared of God's anger!"

Officials in Baku have said that a flammable material used to renovate the building's facade was responsible for the disaster.

But Haqqin.az, a pro-government website, did not take kindly to Mammadov's comments. In a blistering June 3 article, Mammadov was described as a "traitor" and "a new opposition activist."

Haqqin.az also linked the diplomat to an alleged antigovernment group within the ranks of the Foreign Ministry that was plotting a coup.

PHOTO GALLERY: 15 People Die In Baku High-Rise Blaze

The media outlet went on to suggest that a number of Azerbaijani diplomats who allegedly "liked" Mammadov's Facebook post could be members of the alleged antigovernment group.

Haqqin.az published a screenshot it claimed was from Mammadov's Facebook page that showed his post along with "likes" from people with names identical to those of several Azerbaijani diplomats.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmat Haciyev said on June 3 that Mammadov's "behavior, if confirmed, is unacceptable, irresponsible, and unprofessional."

A Facebook user with the name Hikmat Haciyev was among those who "liked" Mammadov's statement, although RFE/RL was unable to confirm if it was the Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Mammadov, who has formerly led Azerbaijan's missions to the European Union and European Council, wrote on his Facebook page on June 3 that he was "extremely surprised by the amount of dirt poured on me by Haqqin.az only because I repeated the recent comments made by the president."

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has lambasted Baku city authorities for the deadly May 19 fire and warned that all city officials responsible for the fire and the renovation of old buildings will be held accountable.

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