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Editorials

The Parallel Realities of President Ilham Aliyev - by Giorgi Gogia
"Allahu Akbar" and Social Mutation - by Ganimat Zahidov
Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe: Crisis of Legitimacy - by Vugar Gojayev
The Iranian Delirium of Azerbaijani Regime's Proponents - by Elmar Chakhtakhtinski
The Georgian and Azerbaijani Elections: A Postmortem - by Richard Kauzlarich
How Europe Failed Azerbaijan - by Aslan Amani
Azerbaijan: The Challenges of Selling Oil Rich State’s Massive Electoral Fraud to the US Public - by Elmar Chakhtakhtinski
Corrupt Dictator Is Challenged by a Scholar in Azerbaijan’s Presidential Elections - by Elmar Chakhtakhtinski
EU and Azerbaijan: Setting the Record Straight - by Eldar Mamedov
How Azerbaijan is Like 'The Godfather' - by Michael Weiss
Karabakh and Democracy: Putting Carriage Before the Horse - by Elmar Chakhtakhtinski
Azerbaijan Stirred, Not Shaken by Turkish Protests - by Shahla Sultanova
Abulfaz Elchibey and Democracy - by Irena Lasota
The EU and Azerbaijan: Mismatched Objectives - by Giorgi Gogia
Presidential Elections in Iran Mean Nothing for Iran's Ethnic Minorities - by Umud Duzgun
A Double Standard Won't Do for Baku - by Eldar Mamedov
Open Letter to American Participants of US-Azerbaijan Convention in Baku - by Elmar Chakhtakhtinski
When the Music Dies... - by Rebecca Vincent
Azerbaijani FM's Diplomatic Trip to Isreal Tweaks Tehran - by Shahin Abbasov
Sound Bites Aside... - by Andy Heil
Oil and Stability in Azerbaijan - by Lucy Wallwork
Azerbaijan & Iran: A Soft-Power Struggle? - by Eldar Mamedov
A Tale of Two Azerbaijanis - by Murad Gassanly
"Notebook About Cuba" of Vahid Gazi - Story of "Island of Freedom" - by Rustam Ibragimbekov
South Azerbaijan Is Not Iran - By Umud Duzgun
Azerbaijan and EU: Recalibrating Relations? - by Eldar Mamedov
Azerbaijan: a Mafia State - by Elmar Chakhtakhtinski
Aylisli Controversy Reveals the True Face of Aliyev Regime - by Elmar Chakhtakhtinski
Examining the Economic Sources of Ismayilli Discontent - by Khadija Ismayilova
Secret Videos Threaten Top Aide of Azerbaijani President - by Shahin Abbasov
Strasser's Honorable Defeat - by Anar Mammadli

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OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS

TeliaSonera’s Behind-the-Scenes Connection to Azerbaijani President’s Daughters- by Khadija Ismayil
Ali Hasanov's Media Business: Journalist Investigation by Khadija Ismayilova
The Corleones of the Caspian - by Michael Weiss, Foreign Policy
Azerbaijani Police Fires Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas at Protesting Small Business Owners
AZAD Letter Supports the Removal of Heydar Aliyev Statue from Mexico City

What is to be Done With Pseudo-Democracies. Hikmat Hajizade's Presentation on January 25, 2012

EMDS Final Report on Azerbaijan's Parliamentary Elections on November 7, 2010

"Resource Nationalism Trends In Azerbaijan, 2004-2009," Research by Vugar Gojayev, March 2010

February 16, 2010 - NHC Report: "Nakhchivan: Azerbaijan's Dark Island"

"End of Term Limits. Monarchical Presidencies on the Rise," by Farid Guliyev, Harvard International Review, Feb. 28, 2009
"Imitation Democracies," by Dmitri Furman, New Left Review, Nov/Dec. Issue, 2008

Politics of Energy: Comparing Azerbaijan, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia - by Jos Boonstra, Edward

Burke and Richard Young, FRIDE, September 2008
Azeri Minister of Interior Helped Georgian Government To Suppress Opposition In November 2007

Azerbaijan's 2005 Parliamentary Elections: A Failed Attempt At Transition - by Valerie J. Bunce and Sharon L. Wolchik

Christopher Walker Attacked Azeri Dictatorship At Helsinki Commission
Praise to Dictator
US Lobbying Firm Accused of Accepting Bribes from Azeri Government to Discredit Opposition

90 Years Anniversary of First Muslim Democracy - Azerbaijan Democratic Republic

Last Words of Ganimat Zahid

Syndicate

Interesting Read

Catherine Cosman: Religious Freedom Conditions in Azerbaijan Deteriorated Over the Past Few Years

WASHINGTON, DC. July 21, 2014: Azerbaijan has long presented itself as a model of religious tolerance. President Ilham Aliyev twitted last year that everyone “can see on the example of Azerbaijan how religious and ethnic relations are regulated”. In the meantime, the latest Annual Report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent federal advisory body that was created to monitor religious freedom abuses abroad, detailed 51 cases of religious prisoners in Azerbaijan. It also placed the country on2014 “Tier 2” list, along with countries like Afghanistan, Cuba and Kazakhstan. TURAN’s Washington, DC correspondent Alakbar Raufoglu interviewed USCIRF’s Senior Policy Analyst Catherine Cosman regarding current religious situation in Azerbaijan.

Q. How would you highlight the current major concerns on religious freedoms in Azerbaijan?

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Azerbaijan Can't Kick the Habit: Another NGO Activist Gets Prison-Sentence

By Shahla Sultanova, Eurasianet.org

BAKU. July 17, 2014: For Azerbaijan,  this week has been a busy one. But, critics charge, not in the way you might expect from a country that holds a leadership position in Europe’s senior human-rights body, the Council of Europe.

On July 14, 57-year-old Hasan Huseynli, a prominent, regional non-governmental-organization leader, was sentenced to roughly six years in prison for allegedly illegally carrying weapons and supposedly wounding a person with a knife.

It was a charge that took even the usually reserved US embassy aback. “Given his mild manner and history of promoting civic engagement and education, it is virtually impossible to believe Huseynli used a knife against a local resident, as the prosecution claimed,” the embassy said in a  statement.

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US State Department Questions Azerbaijani Court's Sentencing of Local Rights Activist to Prison Term

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 16, 2014: The US State Department issued a statement reacting to the sentencing of yet another human rights activist in Azerbaijan to a lengthy jail term based on trumped-up charges. The US State Department's statement follows the sentencing of Hasan Huseynli, a non-profit organization leader in Ganja, Azerbaijan, who was arrested and charged with allegedly assaulting somebody using a knife. The prosecution never showed any proof to support the charge. The Azerbaijani court sentenced Hasan Huseynli to six years in prison nevertheless. Below is the full text of the US State Department's statement:

"In another troubling development affecting civil society in Azerbaijan, authorities sentenced highly respected Ganja-based NGO leader Hasan Huseynli to six years in prison July 14 on extremely suspect hooliganism charges. The U.S. Embassy in Baku has worked closely with Huseynli on activities related to student exchanges and English language training.

Given his mild manner and history of promoting civic engagement and education, it is virtually impossible to believe Huseynli used a knife against a local resident, as the prosecution claimed. Huseynli is among a growing number of civil society activists sentenced to lengthy prison terms in Azerbaijan.

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TeliaSonera’s Behind-the-Scenes Connection to Azerbaijani President’s Daughters

By Khadija Ismailova, OCCRP

BAKU. July 15, 2014: Leyla and Arzu Aliyeva, daughters of President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, are even more invested in Azerbaijani telecoms than was previously believed.

They own most of Azerfon, the country’s third-biggest company. Now newly uncovered documents link the daughters through a trail of owners and offshore registrations to Azercell, Azerbaijan’s largest mobile phone business.

That means two out of the top three companies are closely connected to the Aliyev family—and, thanks to more complex offshore registrations, nobody is yet sure who owns the third.

The proven paper trail links the family to nearly three-quarters of the mobile market, a commercial dominance that raises serious questions about Internet surveillance and communications security within Azerbaijan.

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The Parallel Realities of President Ilham Aliyev

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan recently addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; and said that there are no human rights abuses in the country…

By Giorgi Gogia, OpenDemocracy.net
 
BAKU. July 11, 2014: As I sat waiting on 24 June for President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Europe’s top human rights body, I did not have high expectations that he would acknowledge the scope of his country’s human rights problems. But I also did not expect him to deny outright the existence of any human rights problems in Azerbaijan; and call those who challenged him, liars; only that is exactly what happened.

 

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HRHF: Politically Motivated Detentions Must Stop in Azerbaijan

July 11, 2014 (By Human Rights House Foundation): On Friday, 4 July 2014, Ömar Mammadov was sentenced to five years imprisonment on charges of drug possession with the aim of selling it. The young man was firstly accused of possession of narcotics for his own consumption. When arrested on 21 January 2014, he supposedly was found with 6 grams of heroin on him. During the investigation, an official state agency confirmed that he was not a user, however recommending he should follow medical treatment. The investigation hence changed its charges and accused him of wanting to sell the heroin, based on investigations ahead of his arrest. The problem however is that he only came back from months of studies abroad on 20 January, a few hours before his arrest, as he stated in his final words in court on 4 July. Member of the NIDA movement, Ömar Mammadov was in fact the administrator of a Facebook page critical with the government.

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US President Intends to Nominate Energy Official as Next US Ambassador to Azerbaijan

WASHINGTON, DC. July 9, 2014 (Alakbar Raufoglu, Turan News Agency): US President Barack Obama has announced his intention to nominate a career diplomat Robert Francis Cekuta to a key administration post as the Ambassador to Azerbaijan.

Cekuta is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Energy Resources at the State Department, a position he has held since 2011. He also has direct oversight over the Bureau's work on transparency and access to energy.

He previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Sanctions, and Commodities in the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs, following his oversees assignments in Tokyo (2007 - 2009), Berlin (2003 - 2007) and other capitals where he led the US government's engagement on the full range of economic issues with two of the world's top economies.

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Alex Grigorevs: Azerbaijan Should Not Reject Friends

BAKU. July 8, 2014: (Interview by Turan News Agency with Alex Grigorevs, former NDI Field Director in Baku)

Q: In the last period the Azerbaijani authorities have repeatedly stated that the NDI and other Western institutions aim to overthrow the government in Azerbaijan. This was used to block the activity of western donors with local civil society. How do you evaluate this policy of the authorities and what could it lead to?

A: About the overthrow of the power - it's just nonsense. Most likely, the president is frightened by the Russian special services and their agents. This policy cannot lead to anything good. Unfortunately, the authorities do not realize that suppressing civil society, they lose a partner in negotiations on the future of Azerbaijan, and quarreling with the West, they lose allies that they are likely to need, sooner or later.

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Beard-Shaving Attack Stokes Sectarian Tensions in Azerbaijan

By Giorgi Lomsadze, Eurasianet.org

BAKU. July 8, 2014: The ghost of sectarian violence appears to be stalking authoritarian but boastfully secular Azerbaijan, with local clashes and the resurgence of jihadism in Iraq and Syria casting a long shadow.

Several Shi’a Muslims, adherents to this Caucasus country’s dominant religion, recently forcibly shaved the beard of a Sunni man from an alleged Wahhabi group in the town of Sabirabad, 170 kilometers southwest of the Azerbaijani capital, Baku. A mobile video of the attack was posted on YouTube on July 4, but promptly removed.

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British MP Who Challenged Aliyev Says 'The Reputation Of The Council Of Europe Is At Stake'

By Rebecca Vincent, Azadliq.org

LONDON. July 7, 2014: Paul Flynn is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Newport West since 1987. He has been a member of the UK’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) since 1997, serving for more than 15 years as a representative, and currently as a substitute.

In recent years, Flynn has become one of the most vocal UK MPs on human rights issues in Azerbaijan. On 25 June 2014, he drew attention in Azerbaijan for asking President Aliyev a pointed question about political prisoners and electoral fraud. London-based human rights activist Rebecca Vincent asked Flynn some follow-up questions.

 

Q: At last week’s PACE session, you posed the following question to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev:

 

“Politicians and journalists have been falsely accused and imprisoned in Azerbaijan and elections have been rigged: I have spoken to the people involved. Can we look forward to a year in which Azerbaijan raises its standards to Council of Europe levels, or will we have a year in which the deplorable example of Azerbaijan encourages other nations to degrade their own human rights standards?”

In response, Aliyev was visibly angered

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Facebook Blogger Omar Mammadov Sentenced to Five Years in Jail

BAKU. July 7, 2014: On July 4, Baku Court for Grave Crimes sentenced Omar Mammadov, a pro-democracy Facebook blogger, to five years in jail over the trumped-up drug charges. Nineteen-year-old Omar Mamedov was the leader of the youth movement "Akhyn" ("Feed") and a member of the party "Civil Solidarity." After his arrest, he joined the NIDA Movement. Mammadov was active blogger and one of the administrators of the page "Lists of AzTV" in Facebook ((https://www.facebook.com/pazaztv?fref=ts), which posted cartoons, collages, and comments ridiculin corruption and lack of democracy in Azerbaijan (Azeri Report).

 
“Allahu Akbar” and Social Mutation

By Ganimat Zahidov

“As though, we are a grass on a field”

The Islamic world is going through a bloodbath. Over the past two years, the falling of the local dictators and the attempted revolutions, the barking of Kalashnikovs’ filling the space earlier occupied by the stable dictatorships do not promise to the local people anything other than chaos and anarchy. The Arab countries are going through a calamity. This social disaster is deepened everyday by the continuing murders sanctioned by the local imams and the hundred thousands of people being displaced from their homes in war-torn regions. By now this tragedy looks like a bottomless abyss. The religious sectarian wars have soaked itself in the mass hatred and the spilled blood of hundreds of thousands of people have been turning it into an unstoppable killing machine.

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U.S. Rep. Chris Smith Tells Aliyev To Release Prisoners of Conscience, Allow Freedom of Assembly

BAKU. July 2, 2014: Chris Smith, US Congressman from New Jersey and member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, discusses Azerbaijan's human rights challenges, political prisoners and Ukrainian crisis with RFE/RL's Kahdija Ismayilova in Baku.

(RFE/RL).

 
Ali Karimli and Leyla Yunus Not Allowed to OSCE PA Session

BAKU. July 2, 2014: On June 30, the administration of the Fairmont Hotel in Baku prevented the meeting of its guests, the members of the European Parliament Peter Juel Jensen, Karsten Lauritzen and Livholm Sorensenleader, with the leader of the opposition Popular Front Party Ali Karimli. The members of the European Parliament were staying at the Fairmont Hotel as they were attending the session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Baku.

The members of the European parliament had appointed a meeting with Ali Karimli at the hotel, but when Karimli arrived at the hotel, the meeting was interrupted by the security guards of the hotel. The Fairmont Hotel's security guards demanded that Ali Karimli left the hotel. Ali Karimli was not the only person whom the Azerbaijani government tried to prevent from meeting with the participants of the OSCE PA session in Baku. Earlier, the security service of the OSCE PA session in Baku did not allow the known human rights activist Leyla Yunus to the session.

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Baku's Twilight Zone: The OSCE PA Meeting in Azerbaijan Opens Up Space for Internal Debate

BAKU. July 2, 2014 (Commonspace.eu): The meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Baku highlights Azerbaijan's readiness to manoevre around complicated foreign and domestic political agendas in front of a home audience.

For the host country, Azerbaijan, the meeting is of the utmost significance. This is not only one of the largest and most prestigious meetings ever held in the Azerbaijani capital. It also has direct significance for the country's foreign and domestic policy.

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Azerbaijan Now Sending Cartoons and Fighters to Syria

By Giorgi Lomsadze, Eurasianet.org

BAKU. July 1, 2014: Distractions like a full-on rebellion and raging jihad somehow did not prevent Syria from holding an international cartoon festival this month. And from prizes going to artists from Azerbaijan, better known for supplying recruits for Syria’s Islamic insurgency than for providing the war-torn country with pictorial talent.

In Syria’s Ninth International Cartoon Contest, Azerbaijani artist Bayram Hajizade shared a gold medal with Iranian Mehdi Azizi and Colombian Elena Ospina in a category billed Theatre, in the all-the-world’s-a-stage sense. Another Azerbaijani contender, Seyran Caferli, walked off with the bronze in the same category.

The contest’s website does not shed great light on its origins; at least, not for the non-Arabic-speaker. According to Azerbaijan's government-friendly website Azernews, it attracted entrants ranging from France and Morocco to Peru and Thailand.

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Azerbaijan: A Country of Amputated Spirits

Has Azerbaijan's dismal human rights record been swept under the rug because of global energy demand?

By Arzu Geybullayeva, AlJazeera.com

BAKU. June 27, 2014: In his 2011 speech, Stefan Fule, a Czech diplomat in charge of the European Union enlargement policy, said: "Europe should have backed democrats, not dictators."

The statement came in the wake of the Arab Spring. Fule added: "The crowds in the streets of Tunis, Cairo and elsewhere have been fighting in the name of our shared values. It is with them and for them we must work today [and] not with dictators who are, as we speak, spilling the blood of their own people with utter disregard for human life."

Fule's statement came in 2011, but fast forward to 2014, and some are asking: What happened to the statement about not supporting dictatorships? Not much has happened, especially when we look at other dictatorships surrounding the Council of Europe - Azerbaijan being a prime example.

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Solar Plexus: A Baku Saga in Four Parts

Rustam Ibragimbekov's New Book Describes Three Generations of Life in Baku

MOSCOW. June 27, 2014: From the Academy award winning screenplay writer of Burnt by the Sun, Solar Plexus is a compelling saga of family and friendship, love and betrayal, set against the backdrop of Azerbaijan’s rapidly-changing capital, Baku, as the country struggles with the transition into a post-Soviet world...

Solar Plexus: A Baku Saga in Four Parts has been translated into English by the acclaimed translator Andrew Bromfield, who has also translated works by Boris Akunin, Vladimir Voinovich, Irina Denezhkina, Victor Pelevin, and Sergei Lukyanenko, amongst others.

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Azerbaijan: Jury Dismissed

By Giorgi Lomsadze, Eurasianet.org

BAKU. June 25, 2014: After toying with the idea of introducing jury trials, the Azerbaijani government now has dropped the initiative altogether, choosing to keep the court system to itself. MP Ali Huseynli, representing the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, allegedly sees jury systems as a Western thingamajigy that doesn’t work in this former Soviet republic. “Jurors are mainly people who do not have a law education and, therefore, often they cannot make legal judgments,” Huseynli commented as he and his fellow lawmakers axed the jury-amendment from a bill on courts and judges last week.

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Activists Protest Azerbaijani President's PACE Speech

STRASBOURG. June 24, 2014: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's speech at a session of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in Strasbourg has been met by protests.

Azerbaijani activists living in Europe came to the PACE parliamentary session on June 24 wearing T-shirts with pictures of political prisoners in Azerbaijan and had their mouths covered with black tape.

They protested Aliyev's statement at the session that "all fundamental freedoms are respected in Azerbaijan."

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Azerbaijani Media and Regulators A Family Affair: Ali Hasanov's Media Business

By Khadija Ismayilova, OCCRP and RFE/RL

Ali Hasanov, chief of the Presidential Administration's department for socio-political affairs, Baku, Dec 2010

BAKU. June 24, 2014: Sona Veliyeva is a busy woman.

She manages a Kaspi newspaper, is a member of the National TV Radio Council, and owns and manages several companies dealing with education and university preparation courses.

She also happens to be the wife of Ali Hasanov, the head of the social-political department of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, who is one of the key figures defining the government’s policies regarding media, freedom of speech and political liberties.

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Human Rights Watch Calls on Council of Europe to Confront Ilham Aliyev on His Human Rights Records

BERLIN. June 23, 2014: The Council of Europe’s leaders and members of its Parliamentary Assembly should urge Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to end his country’s growing persecution of government critics and independent groups, Human Rights Watch said today. The Council of Europe is Europe’s leading human rights body.

As president of the country that currently holds the six-month rotating chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Aliyev will address the Parliamentary Assembly on June 24, 2014.

“It’s sheer irony that Azerbaijan presides over a body whose standards it so flagrantly violates,” said
Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Council of Europe’s leadership should not miss this opportunity to urge Aliyev to free people who are behind bars for nothing more than speaking their minds and to allow independent groups to operate.”

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Azerbaijan Avoids Moscow’s Embrace

By Shahin Abbasov, Eurasianet.org

BAKU. June 20, 2014: Russia is putting the moves on Azerbaijan, as the South Caucasus country’s two neighbors, Georgia and Armenia, prepare to formalize partnerships with rival unions. But ever the pragmatic belle, Baku is resisting Russia’s advances.

While Azerbaijan’s neighbors, Georgia and Armenia, already are committed to deepening ties with the European Union (on June 27) and the Eurasian Economic Union (by July 1), respectively, Azerbaijan, the largest and richest country in the South Caucasus, remains up for grabs.

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Reporters Without Borders Links Shutdown of Zerkalo to "Insidious Censorship Strategy" in Azerbaijan

PARIS. June 20, 2014 (RSF.ORG): One of Azerbaijan’s leading independent newspapers, the Russian-language Zerkalo (Mirror), has been forced to stop publishing because government control of the advertising market and distribution networks has deprived it of the income it needs to keep operating.

The economic difficulties that Zerkalo has been facing are the result of the government’s implementation of an insidious censorship strategy,” said Johann Bihr, the head the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

Government manipulation is now bearing fruit and media pluralism is all but eradicated in Azerbaijan. We call on the authorities to reform the distribution system without delay and to stop manipulating the advertising market so that media diversity is guaranteed.

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Azerbaijan Shuts Down 'Gulen-Linked' Schools

BAKU. June 19, 2014 (Anadolu Agency): The students and teachers of schools previously run by a group connected with influential Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen are to be relocated to other schools, the education ministry announced on Thursday.

Twenty-four high schools and exam preparation centers were closed down by the state-run oil company that took them over from Turkish education company Cag Ogretim, which is allegedly linked to Gulen’s Hizmet movement.

A statement on the Azerbaijan Education Ministry’s website said: “The ministry has formed a working group to relocate the students and teachers from the closed schools. State schools have the capacity and feasibility to accept all students.”

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Azerbaijani Dissident Leyla Yunus Staged Protest at NATO Seminar In Baku - Photos

BAKU. June 16, 2014: Leyla Yunus, prominent Azerbaijani dissident and human rights activist staged an act of protest in the middle the session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Baku. On June 16, NATO Parliamentary Assembly launched its 86th Rose-Roth Seminar titled “South Caucasus: Challenges and Opportunities” attended by the senior government officials of Azerbaijan, including Ogtay Asadov, the speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament. The seminar was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan. Leyla Yunus attended the seminar with the posters showing the pictures of the political prisoners in Azerbaijan. Before the start of the seminar, Leyla Yunus circulated an appeal by the Center of Resistance Against Repression, the human rights organization focusing primarily on the issues of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. Using the fifteen-minute coffee break during the seminar, Leyla Yunus addressed the participants of the activity with a brief message highlighting the human rights problems in the country.

Leyla Yunus told the NATO seminar participants that while the seminar participants discussed cooperation and security in Azerbaijan, this country is led by a criminal regime which has 130 political prisoners in its jails. Leyla Yunus then mentioned the names of the several political prisoners and briefly introduced the history of their persecution to the seminar participants. “You should be ashamed,” said Leyla Yunus speaking to the participants of the NATO seminar in Azerbaijan. Speaking to the newspaper “Azadlig” after the seminar, Leyla Yunus described her encounter with Matthew Bryza, the former US ambassador to Azerbaijan, currently known as a personal friend of the Azerabijani dictator Ilham Aliyev:

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As List Grows, Azeri Leaders Say "What Political Prisoners?"

By Afgan Mukhtarli, IWPR

BAKU. June 16, 2014: As it took over the chair of the Council of Europe’s decision-making body last month, Azerbaijan committed itself to upholding the core values of a grouping that calls itself “the continent's leading human rights organisation”.

Human rights defenders in the country say the government falls so far short of meeting these commitments that it should never have been allowed to take up the six-month rotating chairmanship of the CoE’s Committee of Ministers on May 14.

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Azerbaijan Caught Between Two EUs

By Giorgi Lomsadze, Eurasianet.org

BAKU. June 12, 2014: Moscow and Brussels have gone courting Azerbaijan, the last nonaligned place in the South Caucasus, where Russia and the European Union increasingly compete for influence.

Over the next week, two top officials from Russia and one from the European Union will be descending upon Azerbaijan to chat up Baku, which, unlike neighboring Armenia and Georgia, says it is not ready to commit to a serious relationship with anyone, be it the Brussels-based EU or the Moscow-led EU (Eurasian Union). But neither of the energy-rich country's big suitors seem to take no for an answer.

José Manuel Barroso, president of the EU's executive arm, the European Commission, will be visiting Baku on June 12 as a part of his tour of several ex-Soviet republics that Brussels corralled together to prime for integration with the EU.

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The Corleones of the Caspian

How Azerbaijan's Dictator Woos the United States and Europe

By Michael Weiss, Foreign Policy.com

WASHINGTON, DC. June 11, 2014: On Oct. 9, 2012, the American subsidiary of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) purchased a five-story, 23,232-square-foot mansion in the heart of Washington, D.C., for the purposes of "expand[ing] its operations in the United States," as the Washington Business Journal put it. Oil is the one thing Azerbaijan has plenty of, and it's the one thing the United States is most interested in, so SOCAR's "operations" are bound to be extensive.

Given the money at stake, the mansion's sale price was a pittance: $12 million. The exact address is 1319 18th St. NW, which ought to be familiar to many an old Cold War hand as the former office of Jeane Kirkpatrick, a onetime U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and one of the most influential officials in Ronald Reagan's administration. This mansion is where Demokratizatsiya, the journal of post-Soviet democratization, founded in 1992, used to be published. And, for a time, its most famous lessee was Freedom House, the respected human rights monitor, which today counts Azerbaijan among the "not free" countries.

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An Azerbaijan-American Puzzle

By Thomas De Waal, Carnegie.ru

WASHINGTON, DC. June 11, 2014: Here is a conundrum: why, just as Russia’s neighbors are under increasing pressure, has Azerbaijan picked a fight with the United States government?

As Russia intervenes in Eastern Ukraine, you would logically expect Russia’s other neighbors to be reaching out for support to other international partners. Georgia and Moldova are steaming towards Association Agreements with the European Union.

Azerbaijan is much wealthier than either of those two, and there are many advocates of a stronger American-Azerbaijan relationship.

Yet, in the last year, Azerbaijan has embarked on a crackdown targeted specifically against Western-leaning human rights, civil society activists and opposition politicians.

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The U.S. Urges Azerbaijan To Respect Human Rights

WASHINGTON, DC. June 6, 2014: On June 5, The United States condemned heavy sentences handed down to political activists by a court in Azerbaijan and urged Baku "to live up to its international commitments to respect freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of conscience."

The statement delivered by Christopher Robinson, the US offical to the OSCE Permanent Council says that " the space within which civil society can operate in Azerbaijan continues to be constricted by the Government of Azerbaijan. And the trend, unfortunately, is getting worse. This is a threat to comprehensive security across the region."

"The US is disturbed by The United States is deeply disturbed by the May 26 sentencing of Mr. Anar Mammadli, the widely respected Chairman of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center, to five-and-a-half years in prison on questionable charges ranging from tax evasion and illegal entrepreneurship to abuse of office."

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In Construction-Crazy Baku, Another Old District Faces The Wrecking Ball

By Vusala Alibayli and Famil Mahmudbeyli, Radio Azadliq, Transitions Online

BAKU. June 5, 2014: On 16 February, more than 1,000 people gathered to protest outside School No. 173 in central Baku. The demonstration was unauthorized, but participants, waving pictures of President Ilham Aliev and his father and predecessor, Heydar, insisted it was not political. This protest was personal, and it hit very close to home.

The location of the rally, and its subject, was a part of the capital city’s Yasamal District informally known as Sovetski, after the name given its main street when Azerbaijan became part of the Soviet Union.

The name became ironic: while the rest of Baku adapted to Soviet customs, wearing modern clothes and abjuring religious observance, Sovetski remained a bastion of tradition, said Aytekin Imranova, one of the city’s leading preservationists.

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Inside Azerbaijan’s Bizarre U.S. Lobbying Push
By Rosie Gray, Buzzfeed.com


WASHINGTON, DC. June 3, 2014: Azerbaijan has launched an unusual campaign to win influence among U.S. lawmakers, teaming up with a Turkish guru in exile and the sister of Texas governor Rick Perry, as it seeks to translate its immense oil wealth into political support.

Since early 2013, state legislators in 17 states have introduced resolutions or memorials relating to the former Soviet republic. Most are general statements of support, or recognition of the 1992 Khojaly massacre, one of the most violent and controversial incidents in Azerbaijan’s war with neighboring Armenia.

What the initiatives had in common was they nearly all had at least one sponsor who attended a conference in the capital Baku in May 2013 organized by the Turquoise Council for Americans and Eurasians. The council is a Houston-based group connected to Fethullah Gulen, the leader of the moderate Islamist Hizmet movement who fled Turkey in 1999 after clashing with secular Turkish authorities who accused him of trying to turn Turkey into a religious Islamist state.

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Azerbaijani Human Rights Defender Leyla Yunus Faces Arrest

BAKU. May 30, 2014: Prominent Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus is facing detention again after she refused to go to the Prosecutor's Office today for renewed questioning in an ongoing criminal investigation against her.

Instead, Yunus appealed to the public for support in order "to prevent the authorities from arresting her." as she wrote in her statement. The Office of the Prosecutor General claims that Yunus was officially summoned for the questioning, but she refused to comply. Officials threatened to detain her by force in case she continues to ignore the summons.

In response to the "continued harassment" of Leyla and Arif Yunus in Azerbaijan, Senator Ben Cardin (MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) made the following statement in Washington:

“I am concerned about the investigation into Leyla Yunus and her husband, Arif Yunus, by the Government of Azerbaijan. Their detention, the search of their home and their continued inability to freely travel to and from Azerbaijan is a troubling indication that they may become the targets of a politically-motivated prosecution.  I strongly urge the Government of Azerbaijan to abide by its commitment to the rule of law and due process.”

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Azerbaijan in International Media

"Azerbaijan Counts Human Cost of Architecture," by Shahin Abbasov, The Guardian, July 14, 2014

"British MPs Taken on 'Caviar Trail' By Lobbyists Close to Azerbaijan's Coprrupt Dictatorship," by Jon Stone, BuzFeed.com, June 20, 2014

"Azerbaijan and Council of Europe: Do As We Say, Not As We Do," by G.E., The Economist, May 13, 2014

"Azerbaijan's Sponsorship of Atletico Proves Spectacular Success," by Owen Gibson, The Guardian, May 1, 2014

"Vugar Gashimov, Grandmaster of Chess, Dies at 27," by D. L. McClain, The New York Times, Jan. 12, 2014

"Authoritarian Regimes Retool Their Media-Control Strategy," by R. Orttung, C. Walker, The Washington Post, Jan. 10, 2014

"Hague's Azerbaijan Gas Pipeline Attacked," by Jim Armitage,The Independent, Dec. 17, 2013

"Azerbaijan's Leading Dailies Pay Steep Price for Criticizing the Regime," by Vugar Gojayev, Global Post, Dec. 13, 2013

"Plush Hotels and Caviar Diplomacy," by J. Doward and C. Latimer, The Guardian, Nov. 23, 2013

"Azerbaijan Is Absolutely Not A Model For Political Reform," by Mark Adomanis, Forbes, Nov. 20, 2013

"Free and fair elections are not just about the election day," by Maina Kiai, The Guardian, Oct. 29, 2013

"Azerbaijan Not the Stable, Prosperous U.S. Partner Often Portrayed," by Aslan Amani, The World Politics Review, Oct. 15, 2013

"Fairness an Issue, Even After Azerbaijan Votes," by David Herszenhorn, The New York Times, Oct. 10, 2013

"Azerbaijan Aliyev: Opponent Hasanli wants vote annulled," BBC News, Oct. 10, 2013

"Oops: Azerbaijan released election results before voting had even started," by Max Fisher, The Washington Post, Oct. 9, 2013

"Azerbaijan must use this election to end the Aliyev Dynasty," by Jamil Hasanli, The Guardian, October 8, 2013

"Azeri Leader Tied to U.S. Taps Oil Cash to Avoid Assad Fate," by Henry Meyer, Bloomberg, October 3, 2013

"Azerbaijan: How not to prepare for an election," The Economist, September 2, 2013

"Choices for the South Caucasus," by D. Corboy, W. Cortney, R. Kauzlarich, K. Yalowitz, The New York Times, Aug. 28, 2013

"Aliyev to Face Putin Before Azerbaijani Presidential Election," by Jamila Mammadova, Telegraph, Aug. 7, 2013

"Intimate video emerges, again, of reporter investigating Azerbaijan president's family," by Max Fisher, The Washington Post, August 7, 2013

"Director vs. Dictator," by Shaun Walker, The Independent, July 15, 2013

"How Azerbaijani is Like 'The Godfather,'" by Michael Weiss, The Atlantic, July 11, 2013

"Lobby Money Should Not Thwart US Support for Freedom in Azerbaijan," by E. Chakhtakhtinski, Global Post, June 28, 2013

"Azerbaijan Rolls Out Red Carpet for Visiting U.S. Lawmakers," by Larry Luxner, The Washington Diplomat, June 26, 2013

"The Great Pipeline Face-Off," by Art Patnaude, WSJ, June 21, 2013

"For Obama Ex-aides, It's Time to Cash In," by J. Eilperin and T. Hamburger, The Washington Post, May 30, 2013

"Iran Threatens Azerbaijan," by Alexandros Petersen, The National Interest, April 29, 2013

"A Trip Into Baku's 12th-Century Old City," Photogallery from RFE/RL, April 26, 2013

"Airmiles Andy is Back at the Despot's Table," by Nick Craven and Will Stewart, The Daily Mail, April 13, 2013

"News by and for the Authorities," by Christopher Walker and Robert Orttung, The New York Times, April 5, 2013

"Leaks Reveal Secrets of the Rich Who Hide Cash Offshore," by David Leigh, The Guardian, April 3, 2013

"EU's Problem Neighbors," by Rikard Jozwiak, RFE/RL, March 20, 2013

"Editor of Azerbaijan's Independent Newspaper Sentenced to 9 Years In Jail," The Washington Post, March 12, 2013

"Azerbaijan Police Use Rubber Bullets to Break Up Protest in Baku," The Washington Post, March 10, 2013

"As International Scrutiny Fades, Azerbaijan Scrambles to Silence Critics," by Rebecca Vincent, AlJazeera, March 6, 2013

"The Land of No Anti-Semitism," by Anshel Pleffer, Haaretz, March 1, 2013

"Inside The Department Of AliyevScience" - by Shahla Sultanova and Charles Recknagel, RFERL, Feb 24, 2013

"Azerbaijan is Rich. Now It Wants to be Famous," by Peter Savodnik, The New York Times, Feb. 8, 2013

"Novella's Sympathetic Portreyal of Armenians Causes Uproar in Azerbaijan," by Shahla Sultanova, The NY Times, Feb. 1, 2013

"On a Second Thought..." by Henry Grabar, The Atlantic Cities, Jan. 30, 2013

"Mexico: Statue of Ex-Leader of Azerbaijan Removed," The NY Times, Jan. 26, 2013

"Officials in Azerbaijan Claim to Restore Order to Rioting City," by Andrew Roth and Shahla Sultanova, The NY Times, Jan. 25, 2013

"Minor vehicle collision in Azerbaijan sparks mass riot, attack on local official’s son", The Washington Post, Jan. 24, 2013

"Mexico to Remove Controversial Statue to Former Azerbaijani President," The Washington Post, Jan. 23, 2013

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Azerbaijan in International Reports

December 10, 2013: The Global Witness Report on Corruption in Azerbaijan's Oil Industry - "Azerbaijan Anonymous"

November 5, 2013 - European Stability Intiative Report on Azerbaijan's Presidential Elections - "Disgraced: Azerbaijan and the End of Election Monitoring as We Know It"

September 1, 2013 - HRW Report - "Tightening the Screws: "Azerbaijan's Crackdown on Civil Society and Dissent"

May 14, 2013 - Report of Civil Rights Defenders, Sweden based international human rights organization, on Human Rights Defenders in Azerbaijan

April 2013 - US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights in Azerbaijan

April 3, 2013 - ICIJ Report - Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze

January 2013 - Annual Report on Human Rights Watch - Chapter on Azerbaijan

December 2012 - Freedom House - Nations in Transit - Azerbaijan Country Report

October 29, 2012 - Amnesty International Report "Azerbaijan: Human Rights Abuses Placed Under the E-Spotlight"

October 25, 2012 - "The Struggle for Internet Freedom in Azerbaijan," by Vugar Gojayev

September 27, 2012 - Report on "Local and Regional Democracy in Azerbaijan," The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Council of Europe

May 24, 2012 - "Caviar Diplomacy: How Azerbaijan Silenced the Council of Europe. Part 1" - European Stability Initiative

May 9, 2012 - "Spotlight on Azerbaijan" - Foreign Policy Centre's Report on Human Rights Record of Azerbaijan

April 18, 2012 - EU Parliament's Resolution on EU-Azerbaijan Association Agreement

April 18, 2012 - EU Parliament's Resolution on EU-Armenia Association Agreement

April 2, 2012 - Sandie Shaw Calls on Azerbaijani Government to Stop Harassing Journalists - Amnesty International Report

February 29, 2012 - "They took everything from me" Human Rights Watch Report on Forcible Evictions In Azerbaijan

February 20, 2012 - The Amnesty International Briefing on Human Rights In Azerbaijan

October 4, 2011 - Norwegian Helsinki Committee's Report on Political Prisoners In Azerbaijan

September 23, 2011 - Human Rights Watch Letter to Azerbaijani Minister of Justice On Disbarred Lawyers

April 12, 2013 - IPGA Statement on Political 2012-2013 Political Persecutions in Azerbaijan

April 8, 2011 - US State Department's Human Rights Report on Azerbaijan for 2010

March 7, 2011 - Amensty International: Azerbaijan Must Halt Crackdown On Protest Organizers

February 15, 2011 - CPJ Report "Attacks on the Press 2010: Azerbaijan"

January 27, 2011 - ODIHR/OSCE Final Report on Azerbaijani Parliamentary Elections of Nov. 2010

November 8, 2010: ODIHR/OSCE Preliminary Statement on Azerbaijan's Parliamentary Elections

October 30, 2010: ODIHR/OSCE Second Interim Report on Azerbaijani Elections

October 26, 2010: HRW Report - Azerbaijan: Beaten, Blacklisted and Behind Bars

October 21, 2010: Azerbaijan: Free Expression Under Attack

September 2010 - Article 19 Report - Living As Dissidents: Freedom of Expression In Azerbaijan

September 3, 2010 - International Crisis Group Report: "Azerbaijan: Vulnerable Stability"

March 2010 - Resource Nationalism Trends In Azerbaijan - PETROSAM Program of Reasearch Council of Norway

March 11, 2010 - U.S. State Department's 2009 Report on Azerbaijan

February 24, 2010 - Global Integrity Report on Corruption in Azerbaijan

February 16, 2010 - NHC Report: "Nakhchivan: Azerbaijan's Dark Island"

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Linked Info

"Your Government May Be Corrupt, But Is It Azerbaijan-Corrupt?" - Buzzfeed.com. June 11, 2014

"Azerbaijan's photographers: Capturing the raw truth" by R. Jafarov and R. Vincent, Index on Censorship, October 11, 2013

Aliyev's Cultural Spending Spree - by Emma, Platformlondon.org - May 16, 2013

OCCRP Names Aliyev "Person of the Year" - Dec. 31, 2012

"Sudden, Violent Demonstration Erupts In Northern Azerbaijan," by Karl Rahder, FPB, March 2, 2012

"Azerbaijan: Early 20th Century Satirical Magazine Offers Edgy Exploration of Eurasia," Eurasianet.org, Nov. 24, 2011

US Amb. Ross Wilson's Speech at the Atlantic Council Conference On Europian Energy - June 1, 2011

"Azerbaijan: Prominent Lawyer Disbarred, Youth Activist Arrested," by Karl Rahder, FPB, Feb. 6, 2011

"Azerbaijan Backtracks in Ukranian Organ Transplant Investigation," Eurasianet.org, Dec. 3, 2010

"More Troubles In Baku, Local Press Reports On "Magic Tree"," by Karl Rahder, FPB, June 20, 2010

"Azerbaijan Grapples With New Media Freedom," by Karl Rahder, ISN, June 7, 2010

"A Journalism (r)evolution in Azerbaijan," by Mark Briggs, Lost Remote, May 24, 2010

"IMF: The Party Is Over For Azerbaijan," by Shahin Abbasov, Eurasianet. org, May 24, 2010

"Alienating Azerbaijan?" by Karl Rahder, International Relations and Security Network, Apr. 27, 2010

"Colors and Flowers... and Soviet Spoils," by Ben Tanosborn, April 27, 2010

"The U.S. and the Persecution of Azerbaijan's Bloggers," by Joshua Kucera, trueslant.comm Nov. 11, 2009

"Story of a Father and Son," Frontline Club, Sep 28, 2009

"Hooligans?," RSF about arrested youth activists in Azerbaijan, July 11, 2009

"I Rule Here and Blind Democrats in Europe," by Ilgar Mammadov, REAL, June 27, 2009

Azerbaijan Marks Anniversary Of Its First Republic - Frontline Club, May 29, 2009

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely - by Farid Guliyev, ResetDoc.org, April 16, 2009

So Much For Azerbaijani Democracy - by Michael J. Totten, Commentary Magazine, Oct. 21, 2008

Azerbaijan: Election Day Proves A Snooze - by Mina Muradova, Eurasia Insight, Oct. 15, 2008

Finding Elmar's Killers. Azerbaijan Special Report - by Nina Ognianova, CPJ, Sep. 16, 2008

Azerbaijani Opposition Mulls Presidential Election Boycott - by Liz Fuller

Naxcivan: More Tales From Azerbaijan's North Korea

It's National Press Day in Azerbaijan, But There's Little Cause For Celebration

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Videos

May 16, 2014: Radio Azadliq Interview with U.S. Amb. to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar: "Who Will Stand up for Azerbaijan's Independence?"

November 22, 2013 - AZAD's Event: "The Quest for Democracy in Azerbaijan: Conversation with Jamil Hasanli"

November 7, 2013 - AZAD'S Event: "The Perils of Content with Azerbaijan: Is Status-Quo Sustainable for the West's Favorite 'Gas Station'?"

October 27, 2013 - National Council's Protest Rally in Baku

October 16, 2013 - U.S. Investor Jailed After Whistleblowing on Corrupt Business Deals With Azerbaijan

September 30, 2013 - "Concernus Theatricus": Azeri Youth TV Pokes US Ambassador Morningstar

July 31, 2013 - House Demolition in Khutor, Baku

July 2, 2013 - President Ilham Aliyev's speech in front of the Azerbaijani Police Forces

June 13, 2013: Harlem Shake Protest in Front of Azerbaijani Embassy in London

March 29, 2013 - Battle to Save Homes from Demolition in Baku

January 24, 2013 - Ismayilli Protests Continue

January 23, 2013 - Popular Uprising in Ismayilli

January 23, 2013 - Amazing Azerbaijan! Short Film

January 12, 2013 - Baku Protests Against Soldier Jeyhun Gubadov's Death

December 20, 2012 - British MP Helen Goodman Attacks Human Rights Record of Azerbaijan

December 19, 2012 - AZAD Forum "Azerbaijan's Untapped Potential for the West: Engaging Azerbaijani Society as a US Ally"

December 10, 2012 - Azeri Police Arrests... Government Supporter at Opposition Rally

December 10, 2012 - Public Chamber's Protest Action in Downtown Baku

October 20, 2012 - Opposition Protesters Demand Dissolution of Azerbaijani Parliament

October 1, 2012 - Million Dollar Bribe for a Parliamentary Seat: Secret Cam Recording with English Subtitles

More Videos...

Photos

Photo Essay on Heydar Aliyev's Cult of Personality in Azerbaijan - February 19, 2013

Popular Uprising in Ismayilli - January 23, 2013

Public Chamber's Rally - April 22, 2012

Youth Protest Rally in Bayil - March 12, 2012

Anti-French Protests In Baku - January 25, 2012

Youth Protests in Downtown Baku - December 3, 2011

Rally of the Public Chamber of the Azeri Opposition - June 19, 2011

Azeri Diaspora Rallies For Demoracy In Stockholm, Sweden - June 18, 2011

Public Champer Marks the Republic Day - May 28, 2011

April 17 Rally of Azeri Opposition - April 17, 2011

Azeri Diaspora Rallies For Democracy in Den Haag - April 6, 2011

Azeri Diaspora Rallies For Democracy in Strasbourg - April 2, 2011

Rally of Azerbaijani Democratic Forces - April 2, 2011

Free Azerbaijan Rally of AZAD - March 19, 2011

Musavat Rally Against Aliyev Regime - March 12, 2011

Youth Protests Against Aliyev Regime - March 11, 2011

Democratic Forces of Azerbaijan Commemorated M.A. Rasulzade - January 31, 2011

Hijab Protest In Nardaran - December 18, 2010

Parliamentary Elections In Azerbaijan - November 7, 2010

Azeri Diaspora In Netherlands Protested Against Ilham Aliyev's Regime - November 5, 2010

PFPA and Musavat's Joint Rally In Baku - July 31, 2010

Azeri Opposition's Protest Action In Baku - July 3, 2010

Azadlig Bloc Held "Unauthorized" Rally In Baku - June 19, 2010

Musavat and Union for Democracy Held "Unauthorized" Rally In Baku - June 12, 2010

Azadlig Bloc's "Unauthorized" Rally In Baku - June 5, 2010

International Act of Protest for Eynulla Fatullayev In Front of Azeri Embassy - June 3, 2010

Azadlig Bloc's Rally In Novkhani - May 28, 2010

Protest of Azadlig Bloc in Baku - May 15, 2010

Protest of Azadlig bloc in Baku - April 26, 2010

Surprise Youth Protest Action in Baku - Nov. 22, 2009

U.S. Azeris Commemorate Oil Academy Shooting Victims - May 10, 2009

Student Protests In Baku - May 10, 2009

Mirza Sakit Released From Jail - April 9, 2009

Azeris Marked Khojali Massacre In Front of Armenian Embassy - February 25, 2009

AZAD Holds Protest Rally In New York Against Unlimited Presidency in Azebaijan - January 9, 2009

AZAD Holds Protest Rally in Washington DC Against Unlimited Presidency in Azerbaijan - Dec. 30, 2008

Protests Against Constitutional Changes in Azerbaijan - Dec. 24, 2008

Ganja Celebrates Ilham Aliyev's Birthday - Dec. 24, 2008

Jailed Azeri Journalists, Brothers Ganimat and Sakit Zahidov at Their Fathers Funeral

Sacrifice Holiday in Azerbaijan - December 8, 2008

Military Parade in Baku - June 26, 2008