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Editorials

Washington's Darling Ambassador - Azeri Report Editorial
Open Letter to Secretary Kerry: Why US is Betraying Its Friends and Values in Azerbaijan? - by Elmar Chakhtakhtinski
A Letter from an Azerbaijani Prison... - by Khadija Ismayilova
37 Continues: Aliyev Regime Practices Hostage Taking - by Ganimat Zahid
A Man Like Khadija - by Seymur Hazi
The Two Faces of Azerbaijan's Government - by Altay Goyushov
Khadija Ismayilova Arrested as Journalist and Human Rights Defender - by Rebecca Vincent
Azerbaijan Where Justice is a Prisoner - by Vugar Gojayev
Brenda Shaffer's Conflicts of Interest - by Casey Michel
Iranian Government Is Killing Lake Urmia - by Umud Duzgun
"Dark Times" in Azerbaijan - by Veronika Szente Goldston
What is Going On in Azerbaijan and Its NGO Sector - by Ali S. Novruzov
The Price of Tyranny Will Be Paid in Blood in Azerbaijan - by Elmar Chakhtakhtinski
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

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OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS

OCCRP Investigation: Azerbaijani President's Banking Business
OCCRP Investigation: Offshores Close to President Aliyev Paid Nothing for State Share of Telecom
U.S. Lawmakers Traveling to Azerbaijan Urged Action Benefiting SOCAR which Funded Their Trip
Political Prisoner Seymur Hazi's Final Statement
SOCAR Chief's Son Does "Charity" with Public Funds - by Khalid Kazimov
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

Azerbaijani Journalist Khadija Ismayilova Sentenced to Seven and Half Years in Jail

BAKU. September 1, 2015 (RFE/RL): An Azerbaijani court has sentenced investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova to 7 1/2 years in prison after convicting her on charges that rights groups have called retribution for her reports on corruption involving senior government officials.

The Baku court on September 1 found Ismayilova, a contributor to RFE/RL, guilty of tax evasion, illegal business activity, and abuse of power. 

In addition to the prison sentence, Ismayilova, 39, was also barred from holding public office for three years and was fined $300 to cover legal expenses. The court found her not guilty on a charge of inciting an individual to attempt suicide, after the complainant withdrew his accusation.

Ismayilova, who has reported extensively on the financial dealings of long-ruling President Ilham Aliyev and members of his family, has strongly denied the charges and called the trial a "scam" meant to silence her work.

The verdict and sentence drew swift condemnation from colleagues, human rights groups, and media freedom organizations.

Nenad Pejic, RFE/RL’s editor in chief, said Ismayilova's trial was "an example of politics, not law."

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Azerbaijani Journalist on Trial: Khadija Ismayil's Final Statement

BAKU. Augut 31, 2015 (Radio Azadliq): Today, August 31, Khadija Ismayil read her final statement in court. The prosecutor cut her short. Here is Khadija Ismayil's full statement.

Dear court attendants, the court committee, which has turned into the observers of this hearing, and those who have taken the seats of the people who are genuinely interested in attending the hearing:

I am not sure what your intention is in holding this express court, but I think the repression machine is about to collapse. Surely, we can see this as a result of the collapse in the oil market, but there are other reasons as well. One of these reasons is us!

Many are familiar with the ability of Azerbaijan’s law-enforcement system to invent crimes. But for years the honest citizens of this country, its honest journalists (and I am not talking about the ones who have been kissing up to the prosecutor, of course), and its human rights defenders have been exposing the shame of our judicial system. They have forced the repression machine to cover its disgraceful acts with even more shame. The more lies that were exposed, the more they were forced to tell more lies. The prosecutor's office and the court employees had to resort to more dishonesty to cover their lies.

From the onset, this hearing proved that the “envelope salaries” of tax and prosecutor’s office employees do not fulfill their needs, and in an exchange for illegal privileges they are unable to even prepare a proper slander case.

 

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Is America Forgetting American Values?

By Jeffrey Gedmin and Gary Schmitt (CNN)

WASHINGTON. August 29, 2015: Khadija Ismayilova, an Azerbaijani journalist working for the congressionally funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has been sitting behind bars in Baku since December and faces up to 19 years in prison.

With the number of journalists jailed around the world surging, a case like hers hardly seems like news these days. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, last year 221 journalists were locked up, an increase of 10% on the previous year and the second-highest number since CPJ began keeping track of such data in 1990.

But Ismayilova's case deserves special attention for what it reveals about today's authoritarians -- and us.

Today, the United States needs a closer fusing of its interests and values when dealing with authoritarians around the globe. Following such a path increases Washington's bargaining power precisely because the authoritarians come to see that they can't play one American interest off against another. In turn, such a policy also heartens those states who are paying the price for keeping their own turn to liberalism on track. And no less important, U.S. administrations reinforce their credibility with global publics who, rather than see policy hypocrisy on Washington's part, see an America acting consonant with its stated principles.

No doubt, judgment is still required. But Ismayilova's is not that hard a case. Earlier this year, her fearless reporting won her the PEN "Freedom to Write Award." On July 29, the National Press Club in Washington awarded her one of its press freedom prizes. American taxpayers have employed Ismayilova to do her job. It's high time we do ours, and use U.S. leverage to get her released.

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Watchdog Groups Call on Ethics Committee to Release Findings in Azerbaijan Case

By Will Tucker, OpenSecrets.org

WASHINGTON. August 27, 2015: Ten government watchdog groups have called on House Ethics Committee Chair Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) to release the Office of Congressional Ethics’ findings regarding all-expense-paid trips to Azerbaijan taken by 10 members of Congress in 2013, according to a Wednesday press release. Earlier this month, the Ethics Committee dropped its own probe into the trips, cleared the lawmakers of wrongdoing and did not release the OCE’s findings.

“We are concerned about the committee’s unprecedented decision not to release the OCE’s findings in circumstances where the Members under investigation remain” in Congress, the groups’ letter reads. The Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Demand Progress, Democracy 21, Thomas Mann, the National Legal and Policy Center, Norm Ornstein, Public Citizen, and James Thurber all signed the letter.

“This decision is especially concerning because the Committee itself played a decisive role in approving the Members’ travel to Azerbaijan,” the authors wrote. The groups also raised questions about whether Dent should have recused himself from the matter after receiving contributions from individuals associated with the nonprofit network under investigation in May. OpenSecrets Blog broke the story of the contributions to Dent.

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Trial Of Khadija Ismayilova Postponed

BAKU. August 26, 2015 (RFE/RL): The trial of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan has been postponed until August 31.

On August 26, the judge announced her decision to delay the hearing after Ismayilova's lawyer, Fariz Namazli, requested a new trial, arguing that prosecutors had ignored documents proving his client’s innocence.

Last week, a state prosecutor requested a nine-year sentence for Ismayilova.

The request on August 21 came a day after the state's case against the 39-year-old Ismayilova was wrapped up during a closed-door hearing in Baku.

Ismayilova, an RFE/RL contributor who reported extensively on corruption in Azerbaijan, faces charges of embezzlement, tax evasion, and abuse of power.

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Prosecutor Says Khadija Ismayil Must Be Sentenced For Correction Of Behavior

BAKU. August 24, 2015 (RFE/RL): Public prosecutor, Ramazan Hadiyev in his statement on August 21, said “Kahdija Ismayil abused her powers as the chief of the AzadliqRadiosy Baku bureau. She thus violated Article 101 of the Tax Code by avoiding taxes and by signing service contracts also made others pay less taxes.

“And yet Khadija Ismayil considers herself innocent on all accounts. Aynura Imranova who was questioned during the investigation indicated she was an educated woman and that is would be impossible to force her into writing something let alone a false statement. Based on this, Aynura Imranova, when testifying in court knowingly tried diverting responsibility from Khadija Ismayil. This is why her statements should not be taken as evidence.”

“Another witness Esmira Javadova said since 2009 she has signed contract for service. Her income was 1,400AZN of which she only paid 4% of taxes as part of simplified tax plan. If however, she had signed contract of employment as opposed to contract for service (by independent contractor or self-employed) she would have to pay 14% of her salary in taxes. Ms. Javadova during the investigation said it was Khadija Ismayil who advised her to sign contract for service. This indicates, Khadija Ismayil deliberately created an environment for evading taxes. Later, when Esmira Javadova saw Khadija Ismayil during the court hearing, she rejected her earlier statements. I think it is best if we take into account her statement Ms. Javadova gave during the investigation rather than during the hearing.”

According to the public prosecutor, Khadija Ismayil must be sentenced for correction of behavior and reeducation. She must be deprived of freedom for 8 years based on the Article 179.3.2; 4 years according to the Article 192.2.2; 5 years according to the Article 125; 2 years according to the Article 213.1; and 2 years according to the Article 308.2.

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Man's Death Sparks Clashes In Mingachevir, Azerbaijan

BAKU. August 24, 2015 (RFE/RL): Police clashed with residents in the Azerbaijani city of Mingachevir on August 22, two days after a young Azerbaijani man was found dead after being questioned by local police.

Police used tear gas and sound bombs to disperse the crowd who called for the head of police, Alasgar Badalov, to step down.

Police have arrested several protesters.

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Baku Prosecutor Seeks Nine-Year Sentence for Khadija Ismayilova

BAKU. August 21, 2015 (RFE/RL): A state prosecutor in Azerbaijan has asked for a nine-year prison sentence for Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist and contributor to RFE/RL.

The request on August 21 came a day after the prosecution wrapped up its case against Ismayilova, who is being tried on economic crimes charges she says are politically motivated.

The judge adjourned the hearing after the sentencing request was made, and scheduled the next session for August 26. The verdict could come on that day.

Ismayilova and international human rights organizations have called her trial politically motivated punishment for her investigations into corruption at the highest levels of government in the oil-producing former Soviet republic.

Ismayilova's mother, Elmira, said that Khadija laughed when she heard the sentencing request.

"My child has never done anything bad," Elmira told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service. "She has always spoken the truth."

Ismayilova, who has won numerous international awards for her reporting, has accused the court of rushing through her trial and not giving her or her lawyers sufficient chance to respond to the charges.

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Baku Prosecutors Wrap Up Case Against Khadija Ismayilova

BAKU. August 20, 2015 (RFE/RL): Prosecutors in Azerbaijan wrapped up their case against investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova on August 20 at a closed trial in Baku.

After concluding their case against the 39-year-old Ismayilova, the prosecutors asked the court for an additional day in order to present their sentencing request.

Ismayilova, an RFE/RL contributor who reported extensively on corrupt officials in Azerbaijan, faces charges of embezzlement, tax evasion, and abuse of power.

She could face up to 17 years in prison if convicted.

Ismayilova rejects the charges as politically motivated retaliation for her investigative reporting.

Her arrest has sparked widespread condemnation by international human rights activists and Western governments. 

Her mother, Elmira Ismayilova, has described the trial as "a lie from top to bottom."

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Khadija Ismayilova's Trial Continues Behind Closed Doors

BAKU. August 19, 2015 (RFE/RL): A Baku court resumed the trial of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova on August 19.

Journalists, once again, were not allowed to attend the hearing.

Several journalists brought helium-filled green and red balloons -- the colors of the Azerbaijani national flag -- tied on Ismayilova's photograph, and let the balloons fly near the Baku City Court for Serious Crimes, where the trial is being held.

Ismayilova’s supporters chanted: "Freedom to Khadija!"

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Khadija Ismayilova's Trial: 'Lie From Top To Bottom'

BAKU. August 18, 2015 (RFE/RL): A Baku court resumed the trial of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova on August 18, while her mother and sister doubted the court's impartiality.

The 39-year-old Ismayilova, an RFE/RL contributor who has won awards for her coverage of official corruption in oil-rich Azerbaijan, is accused of embezzlement, tax evasion, and abuse of power.

Rights groups and Western governments have echoed Ismayilova's charge that the case is politically motivated.

Her mother, Elmira Ismayilova, told journalists during a recess in the hearing on August 18 that the trial was "a lie from top to bottom."

She added that the court had already dismissed several defense motions.

"Khadija asked for an additional week to discuss the case with her lawyers. She also insisted that a man named Ramal Huseyov, who was officially registered in the case as a witness and whom she has never met, be invited to the courtroom to testify," Elmira Ismayilova said. "She also demanded that the hearings not be held on a daily basis so that her right to a daily, two-hour walk outside her cell or the courtroom could be respected. Basically, all her motions were rejected by the judge."

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Azeri Government Newspaper Claims Tacit Agreement Between the Aliyev Regime and Western Governments

BAKU. August 14, 2015: The official publication of the parliament of Azerbaijan, the newspaper "Azerbaijan", published an article titled “The Washington Post and The Guardian violate ‘armistice’ between Azerbaijan and the US and West.” The article has been published by a newspaper which reflects the official position of the Azerbaijani government and here is what it claims: The article claims that there is a tacit arrangement between the US, some Western European countries and the Azerbaijani government to ensure that the US and Western Europe would turn a blind eye on the ongoing crackdown on the civil society in Azerbaijan, refrain from criticizing Azerbaijan's human rights records in return securing Azerbaijani government's good grace and cooperation on the energy issues. The article voices a complaint that the West is not doing enough to silence the critical statements directed against the Azerbaijani government's human rights records and that notably two major news media outlets - the Washington Post and the Guardian - violate the established arrangement between the US government, Western European governments and Azerbaijan. Below is the full text of the article as it has been translated into English and re-posted by APA, another news media outlet controlled by the Azerbaijani government:

Baku – APA. “Azərbaycan” newspaper has published V.Alibayli`s article headlined “The Washington Post and The Guardian violate ‘armistice’ between Azerbaijan and the USA and West”, APA reports quoting AZERTAC.

The article says: “The facts show that The Washington Post and The Guardian are indeed violating “an armistice” between Azerbaijan and the United States and West. After the visit to Azerbaijan by Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs at the U.S. Department of State Amos Hochstein on 11 July 2015, it seemed like Washington wants to remove coldness in its relationship with Baku by extending a hand of peace. What gave real grounds for optimism was Mr Hochstein`s statements that the USA will support Azerbaijan. This optimism was boosted when Chief of General Staff of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, Colonel General Najmaddin Sadikov had a meeting with the US Military Attache to Azerbaijan on July 14 and the Ministry of Defence expressed its readiness to continue cooperation with the Pentagon and NATO.

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Azeri Human Rights Defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms

BAKU. August 13, 2015 (Radio Azadliq): Today, August 13, Baku Court of Grave Crimes held its final hearing in the case of prominent rights defender Leyla Yunus and her husband, Arif Yunus.

Leyla Yunus was sentenced to 8 years and 6 months, while Arif Yunus was sentenced to 7 years.

Following the sentence Azadliq Radiosu spoke to the lawyer Afgan Mammadov. He said he was hoping for acquittal from today's court. "Surely, we knew they will be jailed. This is why both Leyla and Arif were ready for jail. The final verdict was the same indictment, nothing changed" said Mammadov.

The couple was originally charged with fraud, illegal entepreneurship, tax evasion and forgery. In addition, there is a separate charge of treason as well.

Following the sentence the judge also announced the court decision to confiscate the couple's property and all of their savings in their bank accounts.

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Tracking the Billions Stolen in Azerbaijan: An OCCRP Interactive Tool

PRAGUE. August 12, 2015 (OCCRP.org): It’s hard to steal billions and cover your tracks.

In Azerbaijan, a small coterie has done its best, registering businesses in relatives’ names and scattering assets among dozens of offshore companies.

But in today’s digital world, it’s virtually impossible to leave no footprints.

For months, reporters for OCCRP have painstakingly untangled the connections between obscure companies and unknown individuals across the globe, following each thread back to its source: the clique surrounding the First Family of Azerbaijan.

The result we launch today: an interactive portrait of the people and companies Baku’s corrupt establishment uses to hide the money it has stolen from the people.

This work was begun by OCCRP senior reporter Khadija Ismayilova, currently on trial in Baku on spurious charges that may nonetheless end in a lengthy jail sentence.

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Former Accuser Testifies In Azerbaijani Journalist Khadija Ismayilova's Trial

BAKU. August 10, 2015 (RFE/RL): The trial in Baku of Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova has continued in Baku with testimony from the man the authorities say she pushed to attempt suicide.

Also on August 10 the trial of two prominent Azerbaijani human rights activists was postponed until August 13 at the request of one of the defendants.

Ismayilova, a contributor to RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, was detained in December 2014 on charges of inciting former colleague Tural Mustafayev to commit suicide. Prosecutors later charged her with embezzlement, tax evasion, and abuse of power.

On August 10, Mustafayev said he suffered a nervous breakdown in the past due to differences with his fiancee and that Ismayilova had nothing to do with his suicide attempt.

On July 24, Mustafayev told a preliminary hearing that he had "defamed" Ismayilova under pressure from law enforcement agencies, but a defense motion to dismiss the charge was rejected.

Ismayilova, 39, has reported extensively on the financial dealings of President Ilham Aliyev -- who has tolerated little dissent and shrugged off Western criticism since he succeeded his father as president in 2003 -- and members of his family.

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In Baku Journalist Dies After Severe Beating (Updated)

August 10, 2015 (Radio Azadliq): Rasim Aliyev remembered at the trial of Khadija Ismayil

On August 10, journalist Rasim Aliyev was remembered outside the court room where Khadija Ismayil's hearing continued. Journalists and friends took a minute of silence remembering the journalist. 

In addition, the Ministry of Health is investigating the cuase of death. In a press statement to Trend outlet, the spokesperson for the Ministry said, the cause of death will be known following the thorough examination by forensics and pathology unit.

"On August 8 at around 18.00 Rasim Aliyev was beaten by a group of unknown men in Bayil settlement of Sabail district. He was then placed into a hospital with severe and multiple body injuries. He died August 9 at around 05.00 as a result of sustained injuries.

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Azerbaijani Journalist Khadija Ismayilova's Trial Begins In Baku

BAKU. August 7 2015 (Radio Azadliq): Investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova went on trial on August 7 in a packed courtroom in Baku, facing charges of embezzlement, tax evasion, and abuse of power that she says are politically motivated punishment for her dogged reporting.

Dozens of activists, journalists, and some members of the diplomatic corps -- eager to monitor the trial of a journalist who has reported extensively on official corruption in tightly controlled, oil-rich Azerbaijan -- were unable to get inside the courtroom.

The trial comes eight months after the arrest of Ismayilova, a contributor to RFE/RL. Rights groups and Western governments have urged her release from pretrial detention, calling the case part of a persistent campaign by long-ruling President Ilham Aliyev's government to silence dissent.

Ismayilova's relatives were not allowed to be present in the courtroom, and journalists were also kept out. Aside from participants in the process, only some representatives of foreign embassies were allowed to attend.

After the session got under way, Ismayilova's lawyers asked the judge to let their client out of the defendant's glass cage during the trial. 
The judge rejected the request, saying that it would be better for her safety to be kept inside the enclosure. 

The judge also rejected a defense motion to drop the tax evasion charge. Defense lawyer Fariz Namazli said the charge was imposed despite the fact that a tax inspection was frozen in May, caling that "a sign of particular ill-will."

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Azerbaijan: First Family’s Russian Dacha
By Olesya Shmagun, OCCRP

PRAGUE. August 6, 2015: Seven kilometers west of Moscow along the Rublyevo-Uspenskoye Highway, a three-meter-high green metal fence cuts through the cool pine forest. Behind the fence lies Mayendorf Gardens, a subdivision in the exclusive and secretive Rublevka community that is home to Forbes millionaires, State Duma deputies, and high-ranking public officials.

One of the homeowners is Leyla Aliyeva, the elder daughter of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who is listed in various records as either 30 or 31 years old. Experts told the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) her property is probably worth tens of millions of given that the median value of current houses for sale in the settlement is US$ 37 million.

OCCRP has been tracking the first family’s wealth and the Dacha is just one of the many luxury mansions the Aliyevs own around the world despite Ilham Aliyev having only served as a public servant during most of his life.

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Ethics Chair Received Contributions from Donors Linked to Groups in Azerbaijan Probe

By Will Tucker, OpenSecrets.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. August 4, 2015: The House Ethics Committee has dropped its probe into 10 members of Congress who traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan in May 2013 with oil industry money, according to a Friday afternoon press release. The panel passed a trove of documents it collected to the Justice Department for a possible review of actions by parties outside Ethics’ jurisdiction.

But even as the Ethics Committee investigated the matter, its chairman, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), received political contributions from local individuals linked to the nonprofit network involved in the trips. The donations amounted to $8,000 and were given on a single day.

Earlier, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) — an independent, nonpartisan body tasked with investigating matters for referral to the Ethics Committee — found “substantial reason to believe” the 10 members of Congress who traveled to Azerbaijan received illegal gifts. The House Ethics Committee on Friday, however, reported that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) and then-Rep. Steve Stockman, (R-Texas) all acted in “good faith” and didn’t break any rules by attending the lavish Eurasian oil conference.

Instead, the Ethics Committee assigns blame to a “criminal conspiracy” of unnamed third parties in its report.

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Azerbaijani Dissident Gets First Aid During Trial

BAKU. August 3, 2015: The trial of two prominent Azerbaijani dissidents was adjourned until the following day, after an ambulance was called to provide medical attention to Arif Yunus. Arif Yunus and his wife Leyla Yunus are prominent human rights defenders and civic organization leaders in Azerbaijan imprisoned for their anti-Aliyev regime activities.Both have been charged with a wide range of offenses from tax evasion to treason and espionage for Armenia.

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One Year of Unprecedented Repression in Azerbaijan...

LONDON. July 30, 2015: A group of international organizations including 89up, Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, Index on Censorship, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), International Media Support, Pen American Center, People in Need, Platform, Solidarity with Belarus Information Office, World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) issued a joint statement expressing their concerns over the ongoing repressions in Azerbaijan on an unprecedented scale. Below is the full text of that statement:

A year after the Azerbaijani government launched an unprecedented crackdown on human rights, the situation in the country continues to deteriorate. The Sport for Rights Coalition calls on the international community to immediately and publicly condemn the government of Azerbaijan's actions and take concrete steps to support Azerbaijani civil society.

One year ago, on 30 July 2014, Azerbaijani human rights defender Leyla Yunus was arrested and charged with treason, fraud, forgery, tax evasion, and illegal entrepreneurship. Yunus, the Director of the Institute of Peace and Democracy, was a tireless rights advocate, likely targeted for her work on behalf of Azerbaijan’s many political prisoners, and her call for a boycott of the inaugural European Games, which took place in Baku in June 2015.

Yunus’s arrest marked the start of a period of unprecedented repression in Azerbaijan. The human rights situation in the country has now reached alarming lows as the authorities aggressively pursue the very individuals who worked to defend those already targeted for expressing critical opinions.

On 2 August 2014, human rights defender and founder of the Sport for Rights campaign Rasul Jafarov was arrested on charges of illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion, and abuse of power.

On 5 August 2014, Leyla Yunus’s husband Arif Yunus, a historian and activist in his own right, was arrested, followed by human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev on 8 August 2014, on similar charges.

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Azeri Pro-Democracy Activist Asif Yusifli Gets Lengthy Prison Term

BAKU. July 30, 2015 (RFE/RL): A high-ranking member of Azerbaijan's opposition Popular Front Party has been sent to jail.

The Baku Court for Serious Crimes found Asif Yusifli guilty of fraud and forgery on July 30 and sentenced him to 7 1/2 years in jail the same day.

Yusifli's co-defendant, Rafiq Huseynov, was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in jail on the same charges.

Yusifli, who was arrested in November, pleaded not guilty and called the case against him a retaliation by the authorities for his political and rights activities.

International and domestic human rights organizations, as well as EU and U.S. officials have expressed deep concern about Azerbaijan's crackdown on oppositionists, rights activists, and journalists in recent years.

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National Press Club Honors Khadija Ismayilova

WASHINGTON. July 30, 3015: Yesterday, July 29, the National Press Club presented its highest press freedom prize to jailed Azeri investigative reporter and RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova. Ismayilova has been held in pretrial detention in a Baku prison for 234 days on charges many observers link to her investigations of high-level corruption involving Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, and which could bring a prison sentence of 19 years.

RFE/RL Editor in Chief Nenad Pejic accepted the award on Ismayilova’s behalf, saying "Khadija is in prison because of her journalism...This award is an acknowledgement of her courage and her convictions, but it is also a call to all of us here tonight to condemn her imprisonment and demand her freedom."

Each year, the National Press Club presents its
John Aubuchon Press Freedom Awards to reporters or others who manifest the values of a free press. Other recipients of the 2015 award are Austin Tice, who has been detained in Syria since 2012, and Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than a year – also on charges widely believed to be politically motivated.

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Leyla and Arif Yunus Trial Behind Closed Doors

BAKU. July 27, 2015: Today the Baku Grave Crimes Court held a hearing on the case of the imprisoned human rights activists Leyla Yunus and Arif Yunus. The outspoken human rights advocates and the Aliyev regime's critics Leyla and Arif Yunus are charged with treason, fraud, forgery, tax evasion, and illegal business activities. The major international human rights organizations such as the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch regard these charges as bogus accusations used as a pretext to punish the Azeri dissidents.

Turan News Agency reported that Leyla Yunus' lawyer Elchin Gambarov brought to the judge's attention that the courtroom doors had been shut and the local and foreign journalists, civic activists and diplomats were not allowed to observe the trial. The judge dismissed the lawyer's motion to open the courtroom doors to those who wanted to observe the trial. Arif Yunus' lawyer Afghan Mammadov petitioned to change the measure of restraint for Arif Yunusov, considering his poor health, but the prsecution opposed the motion and the judge upheld the prosecution's position.

Leyla Yunus called the prosecution team and the investigators in her case 'executioners'. Leyla Yunus had repeatedly noted that she had been beaten and tortured while in custody.

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Relative Of Azerbaijan Activist Arrested On Drugs Charges

BAKU. July 27, 2015 (RFE/RL): A brother-in-law of an outspoken Azerbaijani activist-in-exile has been arrested on drugs-related charges.

Nazim Agabeyov, brother-in-law of activist Emin Milli, was arrested in Baku on July 27. Milli says the accusations are "bogus and absurd."

Milli, who is the director of the Meydan TV online television project, said that it is "a widespread practice" of the Azerbaijani government to "punish relatives, family members, and take them as hostages."

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Azeri Journalist Khadija Ismayilova's Trial Begins on the National Press Day of Azerbaijan

By Charles Recknagel, RFE/RL

BAKU. July 24, 2015: Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova asserted her innocence during the first day of her trial in Baku, saying the charges against her of embezzlement, tax evasion, and abuse of power are politically motivated.

Ismayilova, who reported extensively on official corruption in Azerbaijan as an RFE/RL contributor, was ordered to return to court on August 7.

The jailed investigative reporter told the court during the preliminary hearing on June 24 that "[Azerbijani President] Ilham Aliyev has arrested me because of personal hostility" and "to hinder my journalistic activity."

Her lawyer filed motions during the hearing for dismissal of the case, substitution of pretrial detention with home arrest, and exclusion of some witnesses' names from the witness list.

None of those defense motions was upheld.

The court left unresolved another defense motion to allow a lawyer for RFE/RL to participate in the trial in order to defend Ismayilova against accusations derived from a criminal case launched in December against RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, known locally as Radio Azadliq.

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The Aliyev Regime's Terms for the Azerbaijani-US Cooperation

By Giorgi Lomsadze, Eurasianet.org

BAKU. July 21, 2015: After a period of estrangement, Baku has laid out its terms for getting back on friendly terms with Washington. The suggestions may have come in the form of commentaries from local news outlets, but the medium is the message in Azerbaijan, where most mainstream media is under the government's thumb.

Ultimately, Baku's demands boil down to being accepted for what it is; an increasingly authoritarian regime, by estimates of any international human rights watchdog, and that the US should quit trying to change it.

Granted, it’s made that point before. But now Azerbaijan has particular incentive to lay it on strong. The July 14 Iranian nuclear deal and Azerbaijan’s offers for Tehran to sign onto its Europe-bound pipeline projects potentially could give Baku new bargaining chips with the West.

APA, for instance, in a July 14 piece, construed a meeting between the Azerbaijani armed forces’ Chief of Staff Colonel General Nejmeddin Sadikov and the unnamed US embassy defense attaché as a mutual attempt to mend fences — despite what other outlets, in a copy-and-paste brief, termed the allegedly “destructive” policies of the State Department.

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The Reporting That Jailed Khadija
By Charles Recknagel, RFE/RL


PRAGUE. July 20, 2015: Investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova made a name for herself uncovering official corruption in a country where criticism of the government is rarely tolerated and frequently punished.

For her efforts, the RFE/RL contributor has been secretly videotaped, publicly smeared, threatened, imprisoned, and accused of treason. This week (on July 24 -- changed from original July 22), after seven months in jail, she goes on trial to face charges of libel, tax evasion, illegal business activity, and abuse of power.

Ismayilova has claimed the charges against her are politically motivated, and her detention has been roundly criticized as evidence of official repression in Azerbaijan.

The journalist's work has clearly irked the authorities and other powerful figures in Azerbaijan. What and who, exactly, did she take on?

High-Level Reporting

Ismayilova's exposés, written until she was put in pretrial detention late last year, focused on apparent nepotism within the highest levels of Azerbaijan's ruling establishment, including the family of President Ilham Aliyev.

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Trial Date Set For Rights Activists Leyla, Arif Yunus In Azerbaijan

BAKU. July 16, 2015 (RFE/RL): Jailed Azerbaijani human rights advocates Leyla and Arif Yunus will go on trial on July 27, a judge said at a preliminary hearing nearly a year after their arrest on what the ailing couple and their supporters say are politically motivated charges.

Leyla Yunus, 59, and her husband Arif, 60, are among several activists, journalists, and government critics behind bars in the Caspian Sea state, where rights groups say President Ilham Aliyev has assiduously pursued a campaign to silence dissent.

Video footage showed the Yunuses being led from a police van into the Baku City Court for Grave Crimes. It was the first time they have seen each other since they were arrested separately, Leyla in July 2014 and Arif in August of the same year. 

Leyla and Arif Yunus have been charged with treason, fraud, forgery, tax evasion, and illegal business activities. The Prosecutor General's Office has said that the couple was involved in passing classified information to agents of Armenia -- Azerbaijan's neighbor and foe.

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Leyla Yunus: "I Have Lost Sight In My Left Eye After The Last Beating"

BAKU. July 15, 2015 (Azadliq.org): She looked pale and smaller. Standing behind the glass cage, was not the 59 year old rights activist Leyla Yunus people remembered. She has lost significant amount of weight too. It was also the first time, the couple have seen each other in almost a year. The two were arrested one week apart and held in separate facilities.

Today was the preliminary hearing in the case of Leyla and Arif Yunus.

The prosecutor dismissed all the motions raised by the attorneys. During the break, Leyla Yunus spoke to the journalists. She said both of them are subject to physical torture and intimidation. Mrs. Yunus added her husband might have cancer. However he has been refused any medical check up and so impossible to confirm. Mrs. Yunus herself said she lost vision in her left eye. "The last time I was beaten on June 20. This when I stopped seeing in my left eye completely" added Leyla Yunus.

Following the break, the prosecutors refused to grant Leyla Yunus her right to speak and defend herself as they read out the charges.

The next hearing is scheduled for July 27. -0-

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Ilham Aliyev: We Will Not Pay Attention to Human Rights Criticisms from the West

BAKU. July 14, 2015: Yesterday, during the cabinet meeting of his government, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev attacked the Western countries accusing them of attempting to dictate the terms of cooperation with Azerbaijan.  Speaking of the Western criticism for the growing crackdown on the civil society in Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev said: “Those (critical) resolutions are just pieces of paper for us. Therefore no one will ever implement them. Let the Azerbaijani people and the ones who drew up those ugly resolutions know it. No one can dictate to Azerbaijan."

The Azerbaijani president specifically dwelled on the resolution recently adopted by the Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, which criticized the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. “Who do they think they are?” questioned Ilham Aliyev.  "Is the German Bundestag master of the world, ruler of the world, should everyone obey them? ... We don't want anything from them, while they, on the contrary, need our gas, contracts, oil and our activity in this region," Aliyev said.

Ilham Aliyev also said the leaders of the Western countries did not mean any of the criticisms for the human rights abuses in Azerbaijan and paid a mere lip service to those values.  Specifically, after dismissing the human rights criticisms of the Western countries, Ilham Aliyev said: “Nevertheless, we have no problems with European countries in a bilateral format. And in many cases, I certainly talk about all these shortcomings during the meetings with the heads of Europe’s leading countries, they say: don't pay attention, they (those voicing the criticisms of the human rights abuses in Azerbaijan –ed.) don’t deserve any attention. We don’t pay attention, if we did, we would do what they say. No one will do what they say. These resolutions are just a piece of paper for us.  Therefore no one will ever implement any of what they say. Let them know that. Let the Azerbaijani people know that and also let those who prepare those dirty articles know that. Azerbaijan cannot be talked to in a language of dictate.  Azerbaijan can be befriended or partnered with. We are ready for that.  And this is how we will proceed in the future.”

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Lawyers From 24 Countries Call for the Release of Jailed Azeri Human Rights Lawyer Intigam Aliyev

95 lawyers from 24 countries call for the immediate and unconditional release of human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev. He has been in jail in Azerbaijan since August 8, 2014.

GENEVA. July 14, 2015 (Human Rights House Foundation): In a letter to President Ilham Aliyev, independent lawyers, barristers or attorneys-at-law, express concern over the sentencing of their colleague, human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev: “We call upon you, Mr President, to immediately and unconditionally release Intigam Aliyev and rehabilitate his civil and political rights.”

After six months in detention on spurious charges Intigam Aliyev was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.  

“We identify with Intigam Aliyev”, the lawyers write, “because we believe everybody should have a right to a fair trial, just as he does. Yet, Intigam Aliyev’s trial was marred by procedural irregularities and violations of the right to a public hearing and the right to access the files and documents of the case.” In addition, Intigam Aliyev’s attorney managed to prove that he was not guilty of implementing projects without registration, which he was charged with.

All 95 lawyers express their sympathy for Intigam Aliyev, as a unique lawyer. Not only is he a teacher for a generation of young Azerbaijanis, but he is also an expert of the European legal system, one of the first Azerbaijani lawyers to
utilize the European Court of Human Rights and the regional tutor in the Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) programme of the Council of Europe.

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Khadija Ismayilova's Trial Scheduled for the National Press Day in Azerbaijan

BAKU. July 13, 2015: Turan News Agency reports that the preparatory  trial  in  the case of the imprisoned journalist Khadija Ismayilova  is scheduled for July 22, the day which is marked in Azerbaijan as the National Press Day. 

Khadija Ismayilova is an internationally recognized Azerbaijani journalist, famous for her investigative articles about the wide-spread corruption in the Azerbaijani government, including the family members of the Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev himself. Until her arrest, Khadija Ismayilova worked as a journalist at the local office of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, funded by the US Congress.  

Ismayilova was arrested in December 2014 based on the trumped-up charge of causing someone to attempt a suicide. The alleged victim of this charge is alive and safe. This charge was brought based on the complaint of someone called Tural Mustafayev.  He has since withdrawn his complaint making a statement that he had been forced by the Azerbaijani law enforcement officials to make that complaint.  However, the prosecution still maintains that charge against Khadija Ismayilova.  While Khadija Ismayilova was in pre-trial detention, the prosecution brought additional charges against her including embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion, and abuse of power.

International human rights organizations recognize Khadija Ismayilova as a prisoner of conscience (Azeri Report).

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The Hearing In The Case Of Yunus Family Postponed

BAKU. July 13, 2015 (Azadliq.org): July 13, Leyla and Arif Yunus were scheduled to appear in a court room to start their trial. However, the hearing was postponned until July 15 according to Azadliq Radiosu. No reasons for the change in date were provided.

A number of embassy representatives appeared in court including Kati Piri, member of the European Parliament who traveled to Baku to attend the hearing.

Leyla Yunus, director of Peace and Democracy Institute was arrested July 30, 2014 while her husband, Arif Yunus was arrested August 5 of last year. The couple is charged with treason, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion, fraud, and forgery. -0-

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16 U.S. Senators Wrote to Ilham Aliyev about Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan

WASHINGTON. July 9, 2015: Yesterday, July 8, 16 U.S. Senators addressed a letter to the Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev expressing their concern about the diminishing space for civil society and the harassment of activists in Azerbaijan. The initiative, led by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), highlights the detention of six prisoners of conscience who are facing long prison sentences in response to their peaceful activism: Anar Mammadli, Leyla and Arif Yunus, Intigam Aliyev, Rasul Jafarov, and Khadija Ismayilova.

Signatories to the letter also include Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), John McCain (R-AZ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jean Shaheen (D-NH), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Below is the full text of the letter:

Dear President Aliyev:

We write with growing concern on the diminishing space for both civil society and the freedom of press within Azerbaijan. In August, a number of us wrote to you expressing concern on the rising rate of politically motivated arrests. Since that letter, which highlighted the arrests and continued detention of Anar Mammadli, Leyla and Arif Yunus, and Intigam Aliyev, troublingly Rasul Jafarov and many more human rights activists and journalists have either been arrested or barred from leaving the country. Moreover, we have heard reports that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Azerbaijan is a member, was ordered to close its office and that representatives from Amnesty International, an international human rights organization, are barred from entering the country. Even more troubling is your government’s efforts to stifle the freedom of press in Azerbaijan, as witnessed by the closure of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) office and the imprisonment of investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova.

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Amanda Rivkin's Support for Khadija Ismayilova

WASHINGTON. July 8, 2015: Amanda Rivkin, an award winning American photographer who lived in Azerbaijan from 2011 - 2012 and had an opportunity to get to know Khadija and photograph her, spoke to Emil Guliyev from Voice America (VOA) about Khadija Ismayilova's arrest and efforts at home and abroad calling for her release (click here for the full text of the interview). Answering to the question whether she is satisfied with the level of the US pressure on Azerbaijan in order to obtain Khadija Ismayilova's release, Rivkin said "I am absolutely not satisfied with the level of official pressure being exerted on the government of Azerbaijan in order to obtain Khadija’s release because she remains in jail, while still publishing investigations, which is so fierce and inspiring I am simply in awe of her courage." However, in that same interview Amanda Rivkin said the following which is almost the verbatim repetition of what the Aliyev lobbyists say to justify the US support for the Aliyev regime and the US tolerance towards the human rights abuses of the Ailyev regime in Azerbaijan:

"Ilham Aliyev was and remains the consensus choice who has maintained his position by being one of the few things Russia and America could agree on. It was Ilham’s father, the former president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev who said, “Washington is the new Moscow.” There seems to be very little desire within Azerbaijan and among the Azerbaijani people for anything dramatic to occur politically within their country and without that domestic support for something resembling regime change, I strongly believe the US would be crazy and outright foolish to try. To this end, my conversations with people involved in the promotion of democratic values in Azerbaijan were working for much smaller things, accountability of low level officials, dialogue with the outside world, and youth activism, including with the pro-government group Ireli. Any damage caused to Ilham Aliyev and his government is therefore largely the result of a self-inflicted, self-fulfilling prophecy. The US government is well aware, especially in light of events in Libya, Syria and Iraq that this is not the moment to topple a secular, relatively stable Islamic country’s head of state. Azerbaijan is not Ukraine. To do so would be bonkers and likely pave the way for either an Islamic government or one that tilts full-scale toward Russia and her interests, if it isn’t installed directly by Russia."

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"Dramatic" Change in Western Approach to Aliyev Regime

"Dear Friendly Despot,

Until recently, we pretended to believe that you are a developing democracy. Now, due to certain developments in your country, we will have to pretend to be mad at you for not being one. Hopefully this absolves us of any responsibility for your transgressions.

We will criticize you sharply, may even curse you out publicly. We will keep saying that we "stand with Khadija" and other dissidents. But don't worry, we will not take any real action against you.

In fact, we will keep reminding everyone "between the lines" that we don't want you to go. We will scare everyone with Libya, Syria and other disasters. So, sit tight and continue your crackdown - you are safe.

Actually, do whatever you can to suppress dissent. Otherwise, if too much visible discontent emerges, we will not be able to continue saying that "there are no significant forces for change in Azerbaijan" and justify our support for you.

Read more...
 

Azerbaijan in International Media

"Azerbaijani Reporter Sentenced to More than 7 Years after Farcical Trial," The Washington Post, Sep. 2, 2015

"Is America Forgetting American Values," by Jeffrey Gedmin and Gary Schmitt, CNN, Aug. 28, 2015

"Azerbaijan's Injustice," The Washington Post, August 16, 2015

"Azerbaijan's State-Owned Oil Company Signs DC Firms," by Megan R. Wilson, The Hill, Aug. 14, 2015

"Lady Gaga and Members of Congress Accept the Paychecks of a Tyrant," the Washington Post, Aug. 7, 2015

"Donald Trump is doing business with a controversial Azerbaijani oligarch," by Russ Choma, Mother Jones, July 29, 2015

"Foreign Lobbyist Gets Free Platform at Georgtown University, Atlantic Council," by Till Bruckner, Huffington Post, June 25, 2015

"Baku, Azerbaijan: 10 of the city's wierdest tourist atractions," The Telegraph, June 12, 2015

"Letter from Azerbaijan Jail: Khadija Ismayilova Speaks Out," The New York Times, June 11, 2015

"Baku 2015's Gleaming Stadiums a Facade Covering Corupt Azerbaijan Regime," by Idrak Abbasov, The Guardian, June 11, 2015

"Azerbaijan Bans Guardian From Reporting on Baku European Games," by Shaun Waker, The Guardian, June 11, 2015

"Intolerance and Oppression Overshadow Azerbajan's Glamorous European Games," by Adam LeBor, Newsweek, June 4, 2015

"Azerbaijan's Price for Hosting First European Games," by Rayhan Demytrie, BBC News, June 4, 2015

"To Baku and Back with Freebies," The New York Times, May 25, 2015

"Big Congressional Trip to Azerbaijan was Secretly Paid For By Azerbaijan," by Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate.com, May 13, 2015

"Report: U.S. Lawmakers Had Trip Funded by Azerbaijan," S. Higham, S. Rich, A. Crites and K. Park, The Washington Post, May 13, 2015

"Aliyev's Party," The Economist, May 2, 2015

"Jailed Azerbaijani Journalist, Khadija Ismayilova, to be Honored by PEN," by David M. Herszenhorn, The New York Times, April 15, 2015

"The Country That Diminishes the Olympic Flame," The Washington Post, April 15, 2015

"Azerbaijan Bars Entry to a Georgian Human Rights Worker," by David M. Hersenzorn, The New York Times, March 31, 2015

"Jailed Without Trial in Azerbaijan," The Washington Post, March 1, 2015

"BOA Admits Azerbaijan Pays for British Team to Compete in European Games," by Owen Gibson, The Guardian, February 25, 2015

"Trapped in Baku" by Michael Weiss, Foreign Policy, Feb. 11, 2015

"Washington Times hearts Azerbaijan" by Erik Wemple, Washington Post, Jan 29, 2015

"Azerbaijan: Land of Fire? It is for Some" by Naomi Westland, Huffington Post, Jan. 13, 2015

"Tony Blair Does PR for Repressive Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan Autocracies," by Casey Michel, New Republic, Jan. 7, 2015

"Ten Days in the Life of Ilham Aliyev, President of Absurdistan," by Till Bruckner, Huffington Post, Jan. 4, 2015

"A Thuggish Regime Challenges the US," by David J. Kramer, The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 4, 2015

"The 'Broken Window' Approach to International Relations," by Jeffrey Gedmin, The Washington Post, Dec. 31, 2014

"Who is Shushing State on Azerbaijan's Detention of Khadija Ismayilova," by Till Bruckner, Huffington Post, Dec. 30, 2014

"Azerbaijan Imprisons an Investigative Journalist," The Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2014

"Azerbaijan Jails Reporter Who Angered Top Officials," by D. Herszenhorn, The New York Times, Dec. 5, 2014

"Duke of York to Meet Azeri Despot Ilham Aliyev for 12th Time," by Jim Armitage, The Independent, Nov. 13, 2014

"Azerbaijan Risks New Armenia Conflict as Chopper Downed," by Z. Agayev and S. Khojoyan, Bloomberg News, Nov. 12, 2014

"Azerbaijan's Human Rights are On a Kinfe Edge," by Thorbjorn Jagland, The Guardian, Nov. 3, 2014

"No Country for Human Rights: Azerbaijan's Increasingly Intolerant Regime," by Gunay Ismayilova and Samir Kazimli, The New York Times, Oct. 22, 2014

"Time for Sanctions on Baku," by David J. Kramer and Richard Kauzlarich, The American Interest, Oct. 2, 2014

"Azerbaijan and Think Tanks," The New York Times, Sep. 6, 2014

"'The Hardest Part is I Can't See You' - Azeri Activist's Prison Letter to Jailed Husband," RFE/RL, Aug. 20, 2014

"Azerbaijan Prosecutes a Prominent Human Rights Defender on Absurd Charges," The Washington Post, Aug. 13, 2014

"Prominent Activist Charged With Treason in Azerbaijan," by Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times, July 31, 2014

"Lawmakers' Trips to Baku Conference Raise Ethics Questions," by Will Tucker and Lise Olsen, Houston Chronicle, Jul. 26, 2014

"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

Read more...

Azerbaijan in International Reports

July 30, 2015: One Year of Unprecedented Repressions in Azerbaijan

June 24, 2015: PACE Resolution on the "Functioning of Democratic Institutions in Azerbaijan"

December 21, 2014: "Statement about Critically Deteriorating Conditions of Civil Society in Azerbaijan" - World Movement for Democracy

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

"The Heydar Ailyev Era Ends in Azerbaijan..." by Richard Kauzlarich, Brookings.edu

"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

Read more...

Videos

June 30, 2015: Flacking for Despots: Inside Azerbaijan's Lobbying in U.S.

June 15, 2015: Baku European Games Discussed at Last Week Tonight John Oliver

June 15, 2015: "We will hold you responsible," Bono sends video message to Ilham Aliyev

June 10, 2015: RFE/RL Discussion: The Real Price of Azerbaijan's European Games

May 5, 2015: A Dissident's Life: Story of Ramis Yunus

April 22, 2015: "Azerbaijan Locks Up Critics Ahead of European Games" HRW video-report

December 12, 2014: AZAD Event "Time to Get Tough With Baku: Can US Sanctions Help Azerbaijani Dissidents?"

November 12, 2014: Gerald Knaus Presentation on Azerbaijani Government's Lobbying Efforts with Council of Europe

November 10, 2014: Civic Solidarity Platform: No More Business as Usual for Azerbaijan

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 Event: "The Quest for Democracy in Azerbaijan: Conversation with Jamil Hasanli"

November 7, 2013 - AZAD 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