ehhh yervand jan ehhhh .. qerin lav er asum ...
Statue of a Dictator (Aliyev Clan)
Posted 11 April 2014 - 04:30 PM
Posted 12 December 2014 - 09:24 AM
18:32 12/12/2014 » SOCIETY
French edition about Aliyev regime: ‘‘This kleptocracy has usurped power and picked up vast resources of country’’
Aliyev clan is trying to create for himself a Western type image, but behind this facade lays corruption, rigged elections, violations of human rights, writes the French weekly "Le Point" in an article entitled "Aliyev dynasty or "caviar diplomacy”, Russian office of RFI agency reads.
The author calls the recent exhibition of Parisian photographer Reza dedicated to Azerbaijan, a large PR-campaign financed by the petrodollars of the Heydar Aliyev foundation of Azerbaijan. "After Azerbaijan-Qatar is the second country in regard of active work with French parliamentarians," the author writes.
As stated in the article the relations with France are a priority of foreign policy of Baku. Meanwhile, a number of deputies in the Council of Europe repeatedly criticize the "caviar diplomacy" of Baku. Azerbaijan invests not only in sports, but also in culture, financing the opening of Islamic culture department in the Louvre, the restoration of the Versailles castle, the cathedral of Strasbourg. "In this way the tough regime of Aliyev clan hopes to adhere the image of the Immaculate," the author writes.
The author also notes that Baku is working towards the development of ties between universities. Diplomatic Academy of Baku is collaborating with the Institute of Political Sciences in Lille, and the Azerbaijani oil company SOCAR provides financial support for this project. "According to one of the former employees of the French Institute of Political Science, Science Po, Azerbaijan tried to finance the opening of Turkish-Azerbaijani department in this prestigious university, but this time it did not work," emphasizes the "Le Point."
The French publication notes that in May of this year, French President Francois Hollande during his tour to South Caucasus has had a meeting with a famous human rights activist in Baku, who was a member of the Legion of Honor – Leyla Yunus, but after some time she got arrested.
"Le Point" also recalls that in 2012 Baku organized a song contest "Eurovision". The author calls all the preparatory work, as well as its result an "excessive luxury and poor taste", adding that on the occasion of the organization of the Song Contest lot of old buildings in the city center have been destroyed and thousands of residents of the capital have been expelled from their homes without compensation. "The company which carried out the construction work, belonged to the Aliyev clan," the author notes.
The author claims that Washington compares Aliyev clan with the clan of Corleone, as WikiLeaks leakage proves. "This kleptocracy has usurped the power and picked up vast resources of the country, which has a population of nine million people, without accounting to anyone," writes "Le Point."
Posted 13 December 2014 - 12:00 PM
14:34 13/12/2014 » SOCIETY
US diplomats and analysts are calling for sanctions against the government of Azerbaijan
US analysts and activists who are watching the situation in Azerbaijan, urged the administration of the US President to impose sanctions against the government of Azerbaijan on the background of flagrant violations of human rights in the country.
According to the Azerbaijani news agency "Turan", these calls were made on Friday at the debate in Washington organized by the community of "American Azerbaijanis" ("AZAD").
As noted in the article, the debates have been timed with the death of Heydar Aliyev, on December 12. Richard Kozlarich, former US ambassador to Baku, said that nothing has changed to better in the relations between the US and Azerbaijan after the power passed to his son, Ilham Aliyev. On the contrary, after many years of support for civil society in the country, the US NGOs are regarded in Baku as a threat.
As evidence, he cited the article of the head of the presidential administration of Azerbaijan Ramiz Mehdiyev. " Mehdiyev accuses us of creating a "fifth column" in Azerbaijan, which wants to overthrow the power, he calls the NGOs that work with the United States," traitors of Azerbaijan", Kozlarich noted.
He further drew the attention to the direct attacks of the government officials of Azerbaijan towards the President Obama. In response, he suggested the official Washington to warn the US citizens that, visiting Azerbaijan, they may be subject to surveillance, covert shooting and all sorts of troubles can happen to them.
"If the diplomatic pressure on Aliyev's government does not work, then it's time to consider the sanctions, which will show the government that the continuing human rights violations will have consequences," stated Kozlarich.
According to "Turan", in his speech, David Kramer, the former president of the “Freedom House”, and at present the director of the McCain Institute, noted that Azerbaijan violates not only the principles of West but the universal principles as a hole, adding that it is difficult to be in good relations with a regime that is becoming increasingly corrupt and increasingly authoritarian.
"Currently there are more than 100 political prisoners in the country of, twice more than in Russia and Belarus, against which we have imposed sanctions. Therefore, the pressure for their release, is necessary," he said.
As stated in the article, Kramer also called on all the European political leaders to boycott the first European Games in Baku, in 2015. "Deprivation of Aliyev from standing next to the central stadium of the political leaders of the West will be a serious blow to his image," said Kramer.
The agency writes that according to the speakers, the head of "AZAD" Elmar Shakhtakhtinski and his deputy Gorkhmaz Askerov, the time for sanctions had come long before.
Posted 15 December 2014 - 08:42 AM
11:03 15/12/2014 » POLITICS
HAARETZ: Western leaders are happy to trade with Aliyev, but less keen to be seen with him in public
“One country that should be concerned by Azerbaijan’s seeming disenchantment with the West is Israel, which has built a strategic alliance in recent years with Aliyev’s regime, few details of which have been published,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz says hinting that strategic alliance with the oil-rich state may be on shaky ground.
The article points out the tense relations between Azerbaijan and Iran, where Azerbaijan prefers to maintain the strategic alliance with Israel.
Basing upon foreign reports, the newspaper reports that Israel has conducted intelligence operations against Iran from neighbouring Azerbaijan, and sold it weapons systems, including drones and radar. Israel doesn’t disclose details of its arms deals with Azerbaijan, or if the military and electronic equipment it supplies is used only for defence purposes against Iran and the Armenian side or is used to suppress the regime’s internal opposition as well.
The article cites Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova who in her interview with Haaretz last year warned the West and Israel from relying on the Aliyev regime to maintain a secular Azerbaijan and block the Islamists.
Western leaders are happy to trade with Aliyev, but less keen to be seen with him in public, the author hints reminding the reader that three months ago President Barack Obama criticised Azerbaijan’s human rights record in a public speech. Aliyev is not content with Azerbaijan’s commercial ties with a West eager for oil and gas – he wants respectability, too, stresses the author pointing out the millions Azerbaijani president spent on lobbying and public relations, including sponsorship of Spanish soccer side Atletico Madrid.
Turning to the arrest of the independent Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova, Haaretz reports that it is seen by many in Baku as a breaking point in Aliyev’s attempts to align Azerbaijan with the West.
Until very recently, Azerbaijan saw President Vladimir Putin’s Russia as a hostile force trying to undermine its pro-Western policy. However, Aliyev seems to feel that, after years courting the West and even entertaining the idea that Azerbaijan could join the European Union, it’s time to turn back toward Russia, the newspaper observes.
This kind of conclusion is based on an interview Aliyev gave two weeks ago to a Russian news channel, where he held Kremlin’s position that the United States and European Union are responsible for the rise of ISIS by supporting the rebels fighting the Bashar Assad regime in Syria.
Posted 15 December 2014 - 10:51 AM
All the candidates for the presidency of Peñarol would refuse a possible sponsorship of Azerbaijan
Agencia Prensa Armenia
A day before the elections of the most important club in Uruguay, all
the candidates for the presidency of Peñarol announced that they would
refuse a possible sponsorship of Azerbaijan.
According to the Armenian National Committee of Uruguay ( Link ->
http://www.causaarmenia.org/?p=577 ) , despite their differences all
the candidates agree that the discriminatory conditions that
Azerbaijan proposed to the Argentine club San Lorenzo in mid-year are
unacceptable. In July,
Prensa Armenia reported
that one of the conditions that the Azeri officials imposed on San
Lorenzo was that "there couldn't be ethnic Armenians" in future
executive committees of the club in exchange for a lucrative contract
with the club. The issue gained importance in Peñarol since some of
the candidates are members of the Armenian community.
The current president of Peñarol seeking for a re-election Juan Pedro
Damiani said that in the event of a similar proposal "we will act the
same way as San Lorenzo" and stated that "it strikes me that Atletico
Madrid could accept this sponsor." Marcelo Areco, another candidate,
described as "unfortunate and shameful" the conditions imposed by
Azerbaijan to San Lorenzo, Ricardo Rachetti described as "outrageous"
any proposal that intended to discriminate any person, Ignacio Ruglio
said that "regardless of the size of the organization making the
offer, no one can impose discriminative conditions" and finally Edgar
Welker, current Vice President of the club, said that "accepting
conditions of this nature would be really unfortunate."
Agencia de Noticias Prensa Armenia
Armenia 1366, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel. (5411) 4775-7595
Posted 16 December 2014 - 10:34 AM
18:59 16/12/2014 » REGION
Washington, in addition to sanctions against government of Azerbaijan, calls for boycotting European games in Baku
At the forum "Can US sanctions help the Azerbaijani dissidents?", organized on December 13 in Washington by the organization of "American Azerbaijanis for Democracy (AZAD), for the first time was toughly raised the issue on sanctions against Azerbaijani officials that were involved in human rights violation and freedoms in Azerbaijan. Commenting on the results of the forum for the Azerbaijani service of the "Voice of America» (VOA) the organizers and participants summarized the causes and steps for operating the sanctions, the Azerbaijani news agency "Turan" reports.
As it is noted in the article, the chairman of AZAD Elmar Shakhtakhtinski said the forum sends a message to Azerbaijani authorities that the violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms as well such an attitude towards their people will receive a corresponding response. "We wanted to make it clear that the policy of official Baku is leading not to a rapprochement with the West but rather with authoritarian regimes," said Shakhtakhtinski.
David Kramer, the former head of the human rights organization “Freedom House”, present director of the Human Rights and Democracy at the institute of McCain told the VOA, that the last massive pressure on the opposition, the arrest of journalist Khadija Ismayilova has caused serious concern in the United States, and therefore in February, after the holidays, at a congressional hearing the human rights topic in Azerbaijan will be important.
"I'm in favor of targeted sanctions, such as non-issuance of visas and freezing of bank accounts of those involved in human rights abuses. These steps are intended to release political prisoners and to stop the persecution of opponents," Kramer said.
As stated in the article, Kramer also voiced another way to show pressure on the Azerbaijani authorities – a call for a boycott of the first European Olympic Games in Baku in 2015. "We must make sure that these games do not become a grand event for Aliyev with participation of European leaders," he said.
Posted 16 December 2014 - 10:40 AM
18:22 16/12/2014 » SOCIETY
“Reporters Without Borders”: Aliyev’s autocratic, clannish and corrupt government daily tramples on pluralism
“You all know why I am here in prison. Uncovering corruption is the real reason,” Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova, arrested on December 5, writes in her New Year letter sent from jail to RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service.
As the letter has it, the only way to prove oppressive regimes wrong is to continue uncovering corruption, to continue defending the rights of oppressed people. “Yes, there is a price to pay. But it is worth it! More investigations, more efforts for justice and human rights - this is my wish for 2015,” the journalist writes.
In its turn, “Reporters Without Borders,” famous human rights organisation, launched a petition on their website demanding the Azerbaijani authorities to release the journalist immediately.
The petition, addressed to the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and titled “President Aliyev: Release Khadija Ismayilova,” points out that the absurd charge against Khadija Ismayilova, the recipient of numerous international awards, is the latest example of the appalling harassment to which this trailblazer of investigative journalism has been subjected for years by Aliyev’s government in its drift towards despotism.
The petition notes that Khadija Ismayilova’s investigations into corruption, which encompass the ruling regime, and her human rights activism disturb Ilham Aliyev. “Mr. President, you have responded with increasing harshness. She has been prosecuted for spying and libel, blackmailed and targeted in a smear campaign involving an explicit video… The most despicable methods have been used to try to silence a voice that fights with courage and persistence against the abuse and violation of human rights in Azerbaijan,” the petition stresses.
It is also noted in the text of the petition that Aliyev’s autocratic, clannish and corrupt government tramples on media pluralism daily with the connivance of a compliant judicial system. The few voices that have not fled into exile and still speak out are regularly subjected to sham trials. Khadija Ismayilova joins 14 other journalists and bloggers detained without good reason in Europe’s biggest prison.
“You are doing your utmost to burnish your country’s image abroad in the run-up to the inaugural European games in Baku in July 2015. But the world is not fooled by your efforts on the sports field, President Aliyev. Your actions will be judged in the arena of freedom of information and respect for basic rights,” the petition reads.
Additionally, Christophe Deloire, “Reporters Without Borders” secretary-general, declared that in imprisoning a journalist of such worldwide repute as Khadija Ismayilova, the Baku authorities have given a huge slap in the face to all those who believe in freedom of information and human rights, the Azerbaijani information agency “Turan” reads. “The government of Ilham Aliyev orchestrated an unprecedented crackdown while Azerbaijan held the chairmanship of the Council of Europe and has now expressed in the clearest possible terms its feeling of complete impunity. It's high time it was proved wrong,” Deloire said.
The “Reporters Without Borders” report published for 2014, is worth to mention here, as it reports the death of 66 journalists during the current year all over the world. The reason of these deaths was their professional activity. The human rights defendants also point out journalists arrested, paying attention to “Radio Liberty” journalist Khadija Ismayilova’s arrest in Azerbaijan. European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) that comprises dozens of NGOs from European countries, came up with a statement as well, condemning the mass repressions by the authorities against the civil society in Azerbaijan. The EPDE statement points out the systematic violation of social and political rights, politically-motivated persecution of democracy activists, community leaders and human rights defenders, who are charged with trumped up cases. The rights of political prisoners are being grossly violated during imprisonment, with frequent incidence of torture and other inhuman treatment.
“EPDE condemns the frivolous and unlawful criminal conviction of Anar Mammadli, Member of the Coordinating Council of the EPDE and Head of Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS, Azerbaijan), and the deputy head of EMDS, Bashir Suleymanli. EPDE also expresses its concern about the repression of independent monitoring organization and the mass arrests of prominent human rights defenders Leyla Yunus and Intigam Aliyev,” the statement says.
Posted 17 December 2014 - 10:16 AM
13:47 17/12/2014 » SOCIETY
Famous football clubs refuse sponsorship of Azerbaijan due to demand to exclude Armenians from team
Azerbaijan is in the center of another scandal in the sports’ world. In Uruguay, on the eve of presidential elections in one of the most important football clubs of the country - "Peñarol", all candidates voted against Azerbaijan’s presidency in the club, European edition of "Eurosport" reports.
Club followed the example of its colleagues from Argentine – the club "San Lorenzo" – which Azerbaijan wanted to provide financial support to, demanding instead to exclude the ethnic Armenians from the team.
As the Armenian National Committee of Uruguay reports, all presidential candidates of "Peñarol" unanimously decided that the discriminatory preconditions of Azerbaijan are unacceptable for the South American country.
The current president of "Peñarol" Juan Pedro Damiani stated that if the club receives such a proposal it will follow the example of its colleagues and will refuse the sponsorship of Azerbaijan. Another presidential candidate Marcelo Areco expressed his surprise at the fact that Madrid "Atletico" could accept Azerbaijan’s financial support with such conditions. In its turn, the current vice-president of the club Edgar Welker noted that "acceptance of such conditions would be very deplorable."
The site of the Armenian community of Argentina "Prensa Armenia" adds that in July officials of Azerbaijan put forward preconditions saying that in the future no ethnic Armenians should be included in "San Lorenzo". Instead, Azerbaijan offered "a lucrative contract" to the club. The issue acquired relevance in "Penarol", as some of the candidates are members of the Armenian community, the article reads.
The Azerbaijani media also claim about the presence of anti-Armenian air in Azerbaijan in recent years. Thus, the Azerbaijani newspaper "Yeni Musavat" writes that Armenophobia in Azerbaijan has reached such an extent that for a safe stay in this country one needs only to accuse someone in being "Armenian" or of having "pro-Armenian dispositions." According to Azerbaijani media recently in articles and stories about Armenia and the Armenians published in the press the insulting speech, swearing and unflattering remarks is increasing. In early November, the head of the Examining Division, programming and analysts of the National Television and Radio Council of Azerbaijan Tavakkyul Dadashov in turn called on Azerbaijani media to continue using insulting speech in the articles about Armenia.
Posted 18 December 2014 - 09:06 AM
TURKISH TV CHANNEL REFERRED TO PRESIDENT OF AZERBAIJAN AS DICTATOR
20:19, 17 December, 2014
YEREVAN, 17 DECEMBER, ARMENPRESS. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
was referred to as a dictator during the "What's Going On?" TV program
aired last evening on CNNTurk. This has caused uproar in Azerbaijan.
As "ArmenPress" reports, during discussions on issues on the agenda
with several mass media representatives, journalist for the "Yeni
Shafag" newspaper Mustafa Akyol talked about the closure of modern
Islamic opinion leader Fethullah Gulen's educational institutions
by the assignment of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said he is
against the closure of such institutions. Akyol said he's also against
the fact that Erdogan also reached an agreement with "Azerbaijan's
dictatorial president" on closing down Gulenian schools during a
visit to Baku last year.
- MosJan likes this
Posted 18 December 2014 - 12:16 PM
Posted 20 December 2014 - 11:23 AM
17:27 20/12/2014 » SOCIETY
Scandal on anti-Semitism that is financed by Azerbaijani authorities in Europe is gaining momentum
In recent months, the international media reported that the Azerbaijani officials in France have been involved in financing of anti-Semitism, and have created a European information and Human Rights Centre (EIHRC) especially for this purpose. A scandal broke out on this occasion. "The European Center for Journalists” (ECFJ) in its turn held a journalistic investigation on this topic, published on the official website titled “Is Azerbaijan preparing another Holocaust in Europe?"
As noted in the article, the head of the social and political issues of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan Ali Hasanov was supervising the activities of EIHRC from Baku. Initially this organization in Strasbourg was led by Harry Murey, a German lawyer, specialist in international law, who revealed interesting facts in an interview with ECFJ.
According to him, Eynulla Fatullayev, a member of the Union of Journalists of Azerbaijan, suggested them to organize a European informative-Human Rights Center, reporting that Azay Guliyev, the head of the Council of State Support to NGOs under the administration of Azerbaijani President had allocate a grant in the amount of approximately EUR 100 000 to the center.
Fatullayev also stated that president Ilham Aliyev is informed, and Hasanov will add money from other resources, including different articles from Azerbaijani budget. He also noted that one part of the money will be transferred by the system of Western Union, through close ties of Aliyev clan in AtaBank, and he will bring the rest in cash himself to avoid taxes.
"My colleagues and I refused to take part in the organization of anti-Semitic demonstrations and write anti-Israeli reports, and the Azerbaijani side in avenge decided not to pay our salaries, provided by the contract," Murey said, adding that the Azerbaijani side is putting pressure on the French authorities, in order to hinder the judicial and law enforcement authorities for carrying out any investigations in EIHRC, however they have already sent the extensive materials on the activities of the presidential clan of Azerbaijan to Europol and the security services of some countries.
Murey believes that Fatullaev is playing a double game: he stores documents and materials, compromising not only the top leaders of Azerbaijan but also the Aliyev clan. "Apart of the financial and accounting documents explaining the origin of the fabulous wealth of the Azerbaijani elite, there are also papers in the data bank which present the foreign activities of Azerbaijani MNS. If these documents appear in the wrong, non-friendly to official Baku hands, it can lead to very real "political earthquake" in Azerbaijan and to a collapse of government," claims the German lawyer.
As stated in the article of the US Congress, Steve Stockman has recently condemned Armenia for anti-Semitism and xenophobia, but the lawyer is confident that S. Stockman cannot be called an experienced politician in the truest sense of the word. "Nothing to say about his reputation. Such statements have purely populist nature and do not reflect the disposition of the Republican Party," said Murey.
He also notes that the attempts of the official Baku to incite the American establishment on Armenia will hardly be able to save Azerbaijan from non-incredible political and economic sanctions. Although Republicans traditionally hold pro-Azerbaijani disposition, the recent events in Baku – namely anti-American campaign against the former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Morningstar – a wholesale closure of the offices in Azerbaijan, international, including American organizations, as well as demonstrative arrests of a number of prominent human rights defenders and journalist of "Radio Liberty" - leaves no doubt that in the discussion on political and economic sanctions against Azerbaijan do not rise specific differences between Democrats and Republicans.
The author of the article adds that the Azerbaijani officials have already intervened into the case, in particular, the Permanent Mission of the country to the UN. Trying to save the reputation of the Azerbaijani authorities on international scandal on November 21, Farid Jebrailov, the first secretary of representation published his article in the publication of "Reporter", where, instead of giving specific answers to questions of the American and European press about the financing of anti-Semitism in Europe, Jebrailov only reported that "Azerbaijan respects Israel and there are three synagogues in Baku."
Posted 30 December 2014 - 11:22 AM
RADIO STATION BACKED BY U.S. IS RAIDED IN AZERBAIJAN
The New York Times
Dec 29 2014
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORNDEC. 28, 2014
MOSCOW -- A dozen employees of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in
Azerbaijan were arrested and detained for up to 12 hours of questioning
over the weekend, as state prosecutors intensified a crackdown on
journalists and nongovernmental organizations that has drawn sharp
criticism in the West.
On Friday, prosecutors and the police raided the station's office
in Baku, the nation's capital. Employees were detained as officials
seized computers, flash drives, documents and other materials, and
then sealed the premises.
The station, locally called Radio Azadliq, which means "liberty" in
Azerbaijani, has been a target of the authorities for years. Its FM
broadcast was shut down along with the BBC radio service and the Voice
of America in 2009 (the broadcasts can still be heard on satellite
and over the Internet).
This month, the government jailed a well-known investigative reporter,
Khadija Ismayilova, who had worked for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
as well as other news organizations.
Ms. Ismayilova, who remains in custody, had angered high-level
officials by reporting on the business dealings of the family of
President Ilham Aliyev.
On Saturday night, the authorities began arresting employees of
the radio station, in some cases taking them from their homes, said
Kenan Aliyev, the director of the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty, who is based in Prague.
Kamran Mahmudov, the anchor of a daily news talk show called "After
Work," was taken to the prosecutor's office in his pajamas, said Mr.
Aliyev of the radio service. On Sunday morning, officials even
detained the station's cleaning woman. All the employees were released,
though more were expected to be questioned on Monday. No charges had
"The prosecutors are terrorizing our staff," Mr. Aliyev said. "Azadliq
is the last island of free speech in Azerbaijan and now it is under
The government has accused the station and its employees of espionage
and of being a foreign-financed entity. On the last point, there
is no debate. Radio Free Europe has been financed by the American
government since it was founded in 1953, during the Cold War; the
Baku station opened in the 1990s.
Supporters of President Aliyev have warned that foreign-backed
organizations could be plotting a revolution in Baku, modeled after
the Arab Spring, or the mass street protests in Ukraine that toppled
that country's president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, in February.
The Azerbaijani government has also accused some nongovernmental
organizations and local activists of collaborating with Armenia,
the neighbor with which it has been at war for more than 20 years
over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
"Every place that works for foreign intelligence and the Armenian
lobby should be searched," Siyavoush Novrusov, an official with the
governing Yeni Azerbaijan party, told a local news site, Media Forum.
Even as Azerbaijan has tried to silence dissenters, the small, oil-rich
nation has aggressively courted favor in Europe in recent years. It
is spending billions, for instance, as the host of the first-ever
European Games, which are scheduled to be held in Baku in June.
Posted 30 December 2014 - 05:37 PM
ashxarhq@ yerbeq el chhaskatsav te turq@ ov e.. chem el kartsum te haskanan minchev irents mashki vra chzgan.. el chem asum azerineri hamar sarq vatthtarits el vat en...
Posted 06 January 2015 - 09:28 AM
Jan 4 2015
Ten Days in the Life of Ilham Aliyev, President of Absurdistan
by Till Bruckner , policy entrepreneur
While politicians elsewhere were singing carols and carving turkeys,
President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan stayed on the job throughout the
season of love.
Concerned calls from America, foreign aid windfalls, inspection visits
to mega-projects, crackdowns on his critics....
Ten turbulent days in the life of the de facto President-for-Life of
...one day at a time...
Sunday, December 21, 2014
President Aliyev got a call from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry,
who was ringing to share his "concerns" about oil-rich Azerbaijan's
ever-increasing crackdown on civil society. When the conversation
became public knowledge eight days later, it set off a lively Q&A at
the State Department's daily press briefing.
"Are the calls you're having with Azerbaijani officials, are they of
concern or are you actually making efforts to tell them to stop doing
this and coercing people?"
"I think you can be assured that when the Secretary of State takes
this under consideration and raises it with one of his foreign
colleagues, including the president of a country, that he makes his
What were Kerry's "concerns"?
President Aliyev had spent much of the year harassing, persecuting and
locking up journalists, pro-democracy activists, and human rights
Over the past 12 months, many of the people featured in the video
above, including its star Khadija Ismayilova, have been put behind
The State Department spokesperson's refusal to comment on her case
raised some eyebrows in the room. One anonymous source whispered that:
"The embassy didn't like her critiques of U.S. policy."
Were diplomats still upset about the infamous interview in which she
had mercilessly grilled then ambassador Richard Morningstar about
America's stance on human rights violations in the country?
Monday, December 22, 2014
Azerbaijan is a proud and independent nation with a long history.
Since its independence, thanks to the firm guidance and thought-out
reforms of the late president Heydar Aliyev and his son, the current
president Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan has achieved many great things,
like erecting the world's tallest flagpole.
Shortly after, the proud and independent nation of Tajikistan erected
an even taller flagpole.
Azerbaijan also excels at sports, AzerNews reports.
Chairman of the National Olympic Committee Ilham Aliyev has awarded
sportsmen and specialists in accordance with results of 2014... "In
international competitions, world and European championships we have
won 805 medals, including 275 gold. Compared to last year, the number
of medals has increased again." The number of medals is the main
indicator of the development of sport, he added.
Olympic Chairman Aliyev then looked ahead to 2015.
"It is no coincidence that the first European Games will be held in
Baku.. These Games are a historic event because, as you know, such
games are to be held in Europe for the first time and this
responsibility falls on us... These games also demonstrate the
strength of our country...We have a strong economy and the political
processes are going in a positive direction."
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced that it had allocated 752
million dollars to Azerbaijan for "economic diversification and
private sector development". According to its man in Baku, Olli
"The new strategy attaches great importance to regional cooperation,
governance, environmental sustainability, climate change and effective
implementation of projects."
ADB did not explain how good governance could work without an
independent media, or how an economy built on hydrocarbon exports
could possibly be environmentally sustainable, let alone why public
money was being lavished on financing projects in a petro-dictatorship
that claims to hold over 50 billion dollars in foreign currency
But ADB did upload a video onto YouTube to let locals know how much it
loves being part of the success story that is Azerbaijan.
(Note: This video was not paid for by Aliyev. It was paid for by
The development bank's 2015 annual meeting will be held in Baku.
According to ADB's president, Takehiko Nakao:
"[It] will showcase Azerbaijan's appeal to investors and other
governments... After seeing firsthand the extensive preparations, I am
confident it will be a highly successful event."
Given Aliyev's penchant for blowing billions on prestige projects and
high profile events, he is probably right.
Wednesday, December 24 2014
Christmas Eve! Now that ADB had pledged to take care of economic
diversification and basic rural infrastructure on his behalf, and fish
farms across the country were booming thanks to American economic aid,
President Aliyev was free to redouble his focus on spending
petrodollars on representational urban infrastructure.
He called for First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, Chairwoman of the
Organizing Committee of the European Games.
The First Couple went to admire a model of the White City.
Bigger than the principality of Monaco, with enough space to house the
entire population of Monaco, and with a "Fountain Square [that] will
be twice the size of the current Fountain Square", this mega-project
is guaranteed to buy the banana-importing republic the global respect
And if it doesn't?
Then the multi-billion-dollar 2015 European Games certainly will.
President Aliyev hopes that during the 2015 European Games, thousands
of foreigners will come from all around the world and see all his
favorite mega-projects in Baku with their own eyes.
Then, finally, the world will stop laughing
about Azerbaijan and its ruling family!
But the regime's critics could spoil the pomegranate-and-gazelle
themed party by talking to the foreign guests about police beatings,
show trials and torture in prisons. That's why Aliyev decided to lock
them all away well in advance.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Christmas Day! The Head of the Political and Public Affairs Department
at Aliyev's presidential administration, Ali Hasanov, gave a festive
speech at the award ceremony for the winners of a journalism
competition sponsored by the Fund of State Support for the Development
of Mass Media under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
He told the assembled journalists that:
"No one can say any journalist has ever been prosecuted by the state
or its structures. But unfortunately, today we have some NGOs and
different international organizations trying to vilify Azerbaijan's
free media atmosphere whose foundations were laid by national leader
Heydar Aliyev... The Azerbaijani government doesn't imagine its
domestic life without free media."
Hasanov added that Azerbaijan was the only country in the world where
the state provided housing to journalists. His words are only
preserved in written form, so it is unclear whether he was trying to
sound threatening or not.
Friday, December 26, 2014
Aliyev sent his prosecutors and armed police to shut down the offices
of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Khadija's former
employers and one of the last platforms for critical opinions left
inside the country.
Shortly after the bust, President Ilham Aliyev attended the opening of
Baku's brand new Heydar Mosque, named after his late father.
It's the biggest mosque in the South Caucasus, AzerNews reports.
It covers 12,000 square meters and has four 95-meter-high minarets.
The president gave a rousing speech:
"All the freedoms -- freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom
of assembly, freedom of conscience - are guaranteed in Azerbaijan. All
religious freedoms are fully provided in Azerbaijan."
It was a truly historic speech. No world leader before Iham Aliyev has
ever opened a place of worship without once mentioning God. He did
mention his late father nine times, though.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Aliyev's prosecutor ordered dozens of journalists to turn themselves
in for questioning in an apparent effort to bringing some DIY spirit
into the national-level extraordinary renditioning process.
Half a world away, the State Department said that it was "concerned",
and called on Azerbaijan to conduct a "transparent" investigation in
line with Baku's "international commitment to protecting media
Human rights activists were not impressed.
Around the same time, Daniel Baer, the U.S. Ambassador to the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), decided to
break ranks by sending out remarkably undiplomatic tweets.
Meanwhile, the man who had denounced journalist Khadija Ismayilova for
supposedly "inciting him to commit suicide" (the ostensible reason for
her arrest) publicly withdrew his claim, noting at the same time that
he expected to be imminently arrested. The accuser's recantation meant
that the original justification for detaining Khadija had evaporated.
She remained locked up anyway.
Across town, the First Couple inspected the gigantic Baku Olympic Stadium.
Baku's bid to host the 2016 Olympics failed.
Baku's bid to host the 2020 Olympics failed.
Baku's bid to host the 2024 Olympics will be launched later this year.
Anyway: The stadium is already as good as finished.
It's very modern. It will definitely place Baku dead centre on the
global sporting map.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
What did President Aliyev do on Sunday?
He didn't give any rousing speeches.
He didn't inspect any mega-projects.
He didn't open any new buildings.
He didn't order any additional arrests.
What on earth could he have been doing all day?
Monday, December 29, 2014
Western politicians returned to their desks, and many were not amused
when they heard about Aliyev's Christmas media bust. Even the
Americans were starting to make some disapproving noises.
Armenia hates him, Iran hates him, and a world in which your only
friend is called Vladimir Putin...
...is not a world worth living in. If you survive.
Ilham Aliyev blinked. The thought of being left all alone with his
angry neighbours was just too scary.
The president decided to end the year on a positive note and ordered
the release of a few political prisoners. After all, he could always
lock them up again before the start of the European Games.
And then the president went off to inspect his newest acquisition -- a
sparkling new jet liner freshly arrived from America.
Shortly after, half a world away, for the first time since Khadija's
arrest, the State Department made a public statement about the ongoing
crackdown in Azerbaijan without needing to be prodded first.
A spokesperson opened the daily press briefing with the following words.
"We are alarmed by the Government of Azerbaijan's crackdown on civil
society. The Secretary raised our concerns in his December 21st phone
call with President Aliyev. Since then, we have seen the closure of
RFE/RL's offices, the seizure of its property, and RFE/RL employees
forcibly taken from their homes for questioning by local law
enforcement on unspecified charges. Contractors and others
tangentially connected to RFE/RL are also being interrogated by
authorities. These actions, along with the denial of access to legal
counsel during these interrogations, is further cause for concern. We
call again on Azerbaijani authorities to adhere to their OSCE and
other international commitments to uphold human rights and basic
freedoms, including freedom of the press.
In this regard, President Aliyev's decision today to pardon 87
individuals, including 10 considered to have been imprisoned for civic
activism, is a step in the right direction. We urge Azerbaijan's
authorities to build on these pardons by releasing others incarcerated
in connection with exercising their fundamental freedoms."
President Aliyev had already moved on. He'd finished unwrapping the
new jet liner and was busy opening yet another new building.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
The prisoners walked out of jail. The group included a couple of youth
group activists, a few journalists, and eight people who had been
locked up since 2012 for protesting against the ban on wearing head
scarves imposed by their modern and secular president.
(Note on State Department figures above: people who protest against
head scarf bans apparently do not count as "civic activists".)
Over 90 political prisoners remain in jail, including all of those who
were arrested over the course of 2014.
Aliyev might let some of them out during 2015, perhaps before the ADB
meeting, or after the European Games. If America has another one of
its moments of "concern".
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Happy New Year!
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's congratulations to the
Azerbaijani people on the occasion of the Day of Solidarity of World
Azerbaijanis and the New Year:
"Ladies and gentlemen! Dear compatriots!
2014 is being left in the past. 2014 was a successful year for our country...
As you know, in 2012-2013 Azerbaijan was represented in the world's
most influential organization, the UN Security Council. We won this
right with the support of 155 countries. And this year Azerbaijan
chaired the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, making a
valuable contribution to the development of democracy and protection
of human rights in Europe...
Azerbaijan is a country that successfully goes down the path of
democracy, freedom, independence, progress and development. I am sure
that all Azerbaijanis of the world are proud that there is a country
such as Azerbaijan on the world map...
I heartily congratulate all Azerbaijanis on the Day of Solidarity of
Azerbaijanis of the World and the New Year holidays. I wish every
Azerbaijani family happiness, prosperity and continued successes."
That night, there was a spectacular fireworks show in Baku.
Posted 07 January 2015 - 11:15 AM
A Thuggish Regime Challenges the U.S.
Azerbaijan's attack on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is one more
sign of trouble. Will the White House respond?
The Wall Street JournalOPINION
Jan. 4, 2015
By DAVID J. KRAMER
In a Dec. 18 interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, State
Department Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski warned the government of
Azerbaijan that its `crackdown on civil society' risked damaging
relations with the U.S. Eight days later, prosecutors and police in
the Azerbaijani capital of Baku raided the office of RFE/RL, known as
Radio Azadliq in Azerbaijani. Authorities detained and questioned
employees, seized equipment and files, and sealed off the
premises. This is a direct challenge to the U.S., and the Obama
administration should impose consequences on President Ilham Aliyev's
The Dec. 26 raid on RFE/RL, a congressionally funded news organization
that reaches countries in the former Soviet Union and beyond, is the
latest instance of Azerbaijan's nasty campaign against journalists,
opposition figures and activists-and increasingly against the U.S. In
recent weeks Khadija Ismayilova, an intrepid journalist and
contributor to Radio Azadliq, has been detained on spurious
allegations: A man accused her of urging him to commit suicide, and
she faces charges in a separate case for her reporting on blackmailing
by the Azerbaijani secret services. A representative for the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) called
Ms. Ismayilova's arrest `nothing but orchestrated intimidation.'
Azerbaijan has twice as many political prisoners as Russia and Belarus
combined, and those two aren't paragons of democracy. Among the most
egregious cases are the July 30 arrests of activists Leyla and Arif
Yunus ; Ms. Yunus's health is deteriorating rapidly, as she has been
denied medical treatment for diabetes, high blood pressure and
hepatitis. Her family says that Ms. Yanus's weight has dropped from
150 pounds to 90.
While visiting a rights organization on Aug. 20, journalist Ilgar
Nasibov was beaten unconscious by unknown assailants. Several leading
opposition figures-including Ilgar Mamedov of the movement Republican
Alternative and Tofig Yakublu of Musavat-languish in prison on
unsubstantiated charges. None of these political prisoners was part of
an annual amnesty that President Aliyev issued last week.
The offices of several American and international nongovernmental
organizations have been forced to close under enormous pressure from
the Azerbaijani government, including IREX, the National Democratic
Institute, Transparency International and Oxfam.
Last month, Ramiz Mehdiyev, the president's chief of staff, issued
a virulently anti-American screed. He described Radio Azadliq as
airing =80=9Canti-Azerbaijani programs distributing delusional
statements.' Mr. Mehdiyev also attacked the jailed Ms. Ismayilova,
claiming that her `antistate' actions intended to `blacken'
the image of the Azerbaijani government.
The Council of Europe's human-rights chief, Nils Muiznieks, has
slammed the Azerbaijani government for what he's called `totally
unacceptable' human-rights abuses. Several U.N. human-rights envoys in
an August joint statement condemned the `criminalization of
In response to the raid on Radio Azadliq, the American ambassador to
the OSCE, Daniel Baer, tweeted that the raid is consistent with
`behavior of weak, insecure corrupt governments and leaders.' The
U.S. Embassy in Baku issued a bland statement expressing `concern'
over the closing of the RFE/RL bureau, a weak sentiment echoed by the
State Department in Washington. A week later, the U.S. Embassy in Baku
elevated its reaction to `alarmed.'
President Aliyev's deputy chief of staff, Novruz Mammadov, responded
angrily on Twitter to Mr. Baer's criticism, denouncing the U.S. as the
`true birthplace of violence, and corruption.'
Why does the Aliyev regime think it can get away with its abuses?
Because so far it has. The Obama administration should put President
Aliyev on notice by taking two significant steps.
First, authorities in Baku responsible for gross human-rights abuses
should be denied visas to the U.S. and their financial assets should
be frozen, as the U.S. has done with Russian officials under the 2012
Magnitsky Act. President Obama has the authority to deny visas thanks
to an August 2011 presidential proclamation that bars entry to
`persons who participate in serious human rights abuses.' Officials in
Baku certainly qualify, and Azerbaijani activists support the idea.
Second, the U.S. should call for political leaders to boycott the
inaugural European Olympic Games, which the Aliyev regime will host in
June. Mr. Aliyev said in a December 2012 statement that hosting the
games is a `great historic event, a tremendous success.'
The U.S. doesn't participate in the games, but encouraging European
leaders to skip the ceremonies-as most did with Russian President
Vladimir Putin 's Sochi Olympics in 2014-could deprive Mr. Aliyev of
his moment of glory. Similarly, the corporate sponsors of the games,
including BP, Procter & Gamble and McDonald's , should think twice
about supporting the Aliyev regime's pet project. Amid a crackdown
against journalists and civil society inside the country and attacks
against the U.S., now is not the time for business as usual with
Sandwiched between Russia and Iran, and linking the Caucasus and
Central Asia to Europe and world markets, Azerbaijan is strategically
important on energy and security. But as long as the Aliyev regime so
badly mistreats its own people and defies the U.S., it should be made
to understand that its actions come with a price.
Mr. Kramer is senior director for Human Rights and Democracy at the
McCain Institute in Washington, D.C., and former president of the
nongovernmental organization Freedom House.
Posted 12 January 2015 - 09:40 AM
14:45 12/01/2015 » SOCIETY
Thomas de Waal: Accusation of Azerbaijani human rights activists for cooperation with Armenians is the only way to discredit the
Over the past year and a half, the government of Azerbaijan has taken an increasingly nasty, authoritarian, and anti-Western character, writes Thomas de Waal, the senior associate for the Caucasus at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the article titled “A free-thinker loses his freedom in Azerbaijan” which is dedicated to the Azerbaijani scientist Arif Yunus. The latter celebrates his 60th birthday in prison. The article is published on the Open Democracy site.
“Along with Arif and Leyla Yunus, several other well-respected scholars, journalists, lawyers, and human rights activists, have been put in jail on spurious charges. In the vocabulary of the Soviet Union, all of these people can be characterised as dissidents,” Thomas de Waal writes and recalls that on August last year after the house arrest Arif Yunus was kept in an isolation cell in the prison of the National Security Agency, the successor to the KGB. He is unable to receive visits or letters.
He is also one of the few Azerbaijanis who actually went to Armenia. Like many other natives of Baku, Yunus had an Armenian mother, but unlike most he chose not to hide it.
“The charge of collaboration with the Armenians levelled against Arif and Leyla Yunus is probably just a pretext, a way of blackening their names in the eyes of the public. The Armenian card is also being played against Rauf Mirkadirov, a well-known journalist and columnist, who was arrested last April on similar charges after making one visit to Armenia. The main reason for their arrests is probably Leyla Yunus’ human rights work,” notes de Waal.
In his article he presents Arif Yunus’ scientific and journalistic activities, as well as turns to the unpublished collection of first-person stories and anecdotes. He tells, for example, the tale of the traffic policeman outside the town of Shemakhi who retired but still parked his car in his customary spot by the roadside and took bribes from passing motorists — who moreover gave them quite willingly. The collection also presents a story of how President Heidar Aliyev was given a library card to the new US library in Baku by then American ambassador Richard Kauzlarich. Arif understood both sides of the story: Kauzlarich who believed he was making a nice gesture, Aliyev who was offended that he was being treated as though he was any other citizen of Azerbaijan.
According to de Waal this irreverent and affectionate vision of the real Caucasus does not fit with the scrubbed marble-clad Dubai lookalike that the Azerbaijani authorities are trying to make of their country, with international events like the Eurovision Song Context or European Olympics.
“Azerbaijan’s leaders evidently believe that this virtual reality must be defended from all questioning and scrutiny. That is the main reason that they have now shut down the major source of independent news, the US-funded radio station, Radio Liberty,” notes Thomas de Waal.
Posted 14 January 2015 - 09:57 AM
WHAT THE HECK IS A STATUE OF AZERBAIJAN'S FORMER DICTATOR DOING IN MEXICO CITY?
Jan 13 2015
By Rafa Fernandez De Castro
You know when a distant relative gives you some particularly awful
piece of art that you can't exactly throw away but you don't want to
display too prominently where someone might actually notice it and
quietly question your mental health?
Mexico has that problem, thanks to an imperious-looking statue of
Azerbaijan's former Soviet-era leader Heydar Aliyev, which gazes
wistfully towards the horizon, pondering the contributions of the
lumpenproletariat, or something like that.
The statue of the old communist leader, first given to the Mexican
government in 2012, has become somewhat of a headache for Mexican
officials, who have quietly tried to shuffle it around the capital
in hopes of finding a place to put it where no one will notice.
The statue was originally placed in a park overseeing the city's busy
Reforma Avenue, but quickly removed after some residents complained
the monument glorified the legacy of a dictator.
Mexico City residents and members of the Armenian expat community
blame the former Azerbaijani leader, who died in 2003, of committing
human-rights abuses, censoring the media and promoting his cult of
personality with an iron fist during his tenure.
Bowing to pressure, Mexico City then-Mayor Marcelo Ebrad removed the
statue and stuck it in a warehouse until he could think of a Plan B.
He couldn't. But getting rid of it permanently has proven difficult;
Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Mexico threatened to suspend his nation's
$4 billion worth of investments and cut diplomatic ties if the state
removed the statue from display.
Now, the new mayor of Mexico City thinks he's come up with a solution.
Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera announced last week that his administration
will give the Azerbaijani government a piece of prime real estate in
the opulent Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood where the statue can
be displayed in all its glory on private property.
But Mayor Mancera may have spoken too fast, since he doesn't have
the authority to give land to a foreign government without permission
from the Foreign Ministry.
Meanwhile, activists who were instrumental in the removal of the
statue in the first place are still fighting to remove a marble
map from the base of the disfigured monument that awards Azerbaijan
territory that's under dispute with Armenia.
Posted 14 January 2015 - 10:21 AM
Azerbaijan: Land of Fire? It Is for Some
By Naomi Westland
Jan. 13, 2015
[Naomi Westland is Press officer at Amnesty International UK covering
Europe, Latin America, sport and human rights and women's rights.]
Six months from now, Baku, the capital of gas-and-oil rich Azerbaijan,
will host the first ever European Games. There will be the usual
cycling, running and swimming, and the less usual sambo, a martial
arts-wrestling hybrid originally developed by the Soviet Army in the
1920s. There will be unabated joy and crushing disappointment. There
will be blood, there will be sweat, there will be tears. But perhaps
not in the way you might think.
The European Games (kind of an Olympics only for European countries)
is just one of a number of sporting endeavours Azerbaijan has pursued
in recent years. The capital will also be a host city for the European
Football Championships in 2020, Bernie Ecclestone is taking Formula 1
to the country in 2016 and, of course, the government sponsors Spanish
top-flight football team Atlético Madrid, with the slogan 'Azerbaijan:
Land of Fire' emblazoned across the players' shirts (and across TV
screens around the world).
The TV cameras that will follow the European Games, Euro 2020 and F1
to Azerbaijan will give the country a chance to show off to the world.
The government will be hoping to convince politicians, investors and
tourists that it can be a player on the global stage, a nation with
world class architecture (a cultural centre in central Baku designed
by British architect Zaha Hadid controversially won the London Design
Museum's Design of the Year Award 2014) and the sophistication,
organisation and money to pull off major sports events.
But don't be fooled. All of this merely serves to mask something more
sinister going on behind the scenes. In fact, you could take it as a
template lesson in how to launder a country's image through sport.
In the wake of the horrific events in Paris last week it has been
pointed out that governments pose at least as much of a threat to free
speech as terrorists. Well, Azerbaijan can count itself member of that
club, having launched an extensive clampdown on freedom of expression,
silencing those who challenge the authorities with violence, threats
and jail. The country comes 156th out of 179 in Reporters Without
Borders' World Press Freedom Index.
It is a crackdown that has coincided with the Arab Spring, national
presidential elections in 2013 and the ongoing conflict between Russia
and Ukraine. Over the last few years the authorities have
systematically targeted campaigners, activists and journalists, banned
and violently dispersed peaceful protests, censored media and imposed
onerous restrictions on NGO activities. So far, so (un)sporting.
In one of the country's most recent and blatant attempts at silencing
critical voices, Khadija Ismayilova - investigative journalist,
campaigner, translator of Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novel The Kite
Runner, and recipient of many international awards - was arrested last
month on the absurd charge of driving a former colleague to attempt
suicide. Ismayilova reports on corruption and is no stranger to
persecution by the authorities. She is facing separate charges of
libel. She has been threatened, blackmailed, and found herself the
victim of a smear campaign - all with the aim of stopping her from
carrying out her journalistic work.
In July, Leyla Yunus, the director of an NGO called the Institute for
Peace and Democracy, was arrested and detained shortly after calling
for an international boycott of the European Games because of the
country's dire human rights record. She has been charged with treason
(allegedly spying for Armenia), tax evasion, forgery and fraud. Her
husband, Arif, has also been arrested on similar charges.
In August and September, Amnesty received repeated and credible
allegations of further violent attacks on - and arbitrary arrests and
unfair trials of - journalists, campaigners and others who attempt to
hold the authorities to account. The country now has at least 20
prisoners of conscience, including Ismayilova and Leyla and Arif Yunus
- all behind bars as criminal suspects in connection with their
attempts to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression,
assembly and association.
Until November Azerbaijan was, somewhat unbelievably, chair of the
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The committee has an
important role in ensuring that all member states respect, promote and
protect the freedoms and rights enshrined in the European Convention
on Human Rights. Jailing people for challenging and criticising the
authorities, allowing savage attacks on journalists and making threats
of violence are - it goes without saying - a direct violation of the
very convention Azerbaijan was tasked with promoting.
So why has the international community been so quiet on Azerbaijan's
dismal record? Well, this is where global politics, the desperate race
for more secure sources of oil and gas and business interests collide.
And sport provides the perfect cover.
Since the crisis began in Ukraine, it appears that European
governments have been less keen to criticise human rights abuses in
Azerbaijan. Amid deteriorating relations between the West and Russia -
which provides much of Europe's oil and gas - EU countries want to
identify alternative sources of energy. Not only does Azerbaijan have
these in abundance, but a new pipeline, the Trans Adriatic - in which,
as an aside, BP is a major investor - is being built that will carry
gas from Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean, eventually offering EU
countries secure access to the gas they need.
The reluctance of foreign leaders to compromise their energy interests
by speaking out on the crackdown in Azerbaijan provides the armour
Baku needs to protect itself from criticism over how it treats its
citizens. In the meantime, those who challenge the authorities
continue to be beaten up and locked up, hidden and silenced, all
before the TV cameras start rolling. Azerbaijan - Land of Fire? It is
Posted 15 January 2015 - 10:26 AM
19:54 15/01/2015 » POLITICS
Al Jazeera: Ilham Aliyev openly makes anti-Armenian attacks on Twitter
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in his microblog on Twitter was not particularly picky in his expressions when speaking about its neighbor – Armenia, reads the article published on the website of TV channel Al Jazeera.
According to the observations of Al Jazeera, in contrast to the first 15 tweets in which Aliyev shared achievements of its country, tweets regarding the foreign policy of Azerbaijan were in less conciliatory tone. He openly makes anti-Armenian statements, accompanying them with threats and accusations.
The article also presents the reaction of Twitter users who speak about the undiplomatic behavior of Ilham Aliyev. "He does not have diplomatic skills yet," said one of the users sharing Twit of Aliyev. "I do not understand whether this is the president writing or a"keyboard warrior" who trolls in Twitter," another user commented on Aliyev’s statement.
In August 2014 Al Jazeera has already reported that aggressive statements of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in social networks give rise to online confrontation. It was noted that after renewed clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani armies, the president of Azerbaijan has made a number of militant Twits in the microblog. "He threatened to make war, at the same time calling Armenians "barbarians and vandals", Al Jazeera reports.
Posted 15 January 2015 - 10:29 AM
19:51 15/01/2015 » POLITICS
The Hill: Aliyev distracts public from its internal problems by tensions on border
After inheriting the half-a-century-old reins of power in 2003 from his deceased father, Heydar Aliyev, Azerbaijani dictator Ilham Aliyev has tried to position his country as a reliable producer of energy and counter-terrorism partner for the West. At the same time he has pursued rapid militarization, anti-Armenianism, and the consolidation of a strongman regime, The Hill analytical site reports.
The West in general has overlooked the anti-democratic and jingoist nature of Azerbaijan: geography and energy. Azerbaijan borders both Russia and Iran – two countries with which the West, particularly the United States, has traditionally had tense and even hostile relations.
The authors point out that for years rumors have swirled that Azerbaijan made its territory available to the U.S. Intelligence Community so that it could launch some of its operations against Iran and Russia from there. Moreover, Azerbaijan provided an alternate transit route to ship supplies to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan through the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). Such rumors are not necessarily baseless given Azerbaijan’s earlier history of hosting Al Qaeda training camps within its territory before 9-11 and the use of Afghan and Chechen Mujahedeen against the Republic of Artsakh during the Karabakh War. The very same terrorists that the Aliyev senior regime helped to train were among the radicals the U.S.-led coalition has been fighting against since 2001.
“Sitting on a modest supply of natural gas and oil, Azerbaijan played up the 1990s-era hype surrounding the purported massive amounts of hydrocarbons in the Caspian Sea basin – an exaggerated quantity later undermined by subsequent exploration tests. With Western backing, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline was built by a BP-led consortium and put into operation in 2006. In 2010-11 Azerbaijan hit peak oil and since then has pumped out decreasing volumes of oil, a fact that has publicly frustrated Aliyev junior,” the authors write.
Coupled with declining oil production, 2014 saw the end of the ISAF’s mission in Afghanistan and a mild rapprochement with Iran - all of which further depreciated the geopolitical value of Azerbaijan, it reads.
The article reads that 2014 also saw the worst crackdown on democracy, civil society, and human rights activists since Aliyev came to power. The clampdown culminated with the raid and closure of the American-financed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) offices in Baku and the arrest of the most prominent Azerbaijani investigative reporter, Khadija Ismayilova. Today, there are close to 100 political prisoners in Azerbaijan and thousands more fear a similar fate for expressing their oppositionist views. Ethnic indigenous minorities, such as Lezgin, Avar, and Talysh people are also repressed. The Republic of Artsakh (the NKR) helps broadcast a cultural and linguistic Talysh radio channel from Shushi and is a role model for minority rights to self-determination.
Western calls for more transparency and rule of law in Azerbaijan have only added to the paranoia of the regime elite who subscribe to the myth that the CIA masterminded the Arab Spring protests. In order to distract ordinary Azerbaijanis from government misrule and rally them around the flag of fabricated nationalism, Azerbaijan has decided to raise tensions along the heavily militarized border with the Artsakh Republic (Nagorno Karabakh Republic).
It also points out that the West should use their influence and leverage with the Aliyev regime to make peace, free all political prisoners, and hold free and fair elections.
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