State Department Exposes Azerbaijan’s False Image of ‘Religious Tolerance’

The government of Azerbaijan spends a large fortune each year to convince the world that Azerbaijan is  a tolerant nation, which respect the human rights of all minorities living in the country.

However, no matter how many fake ecumenical services Azerbaijan’s lobbyists in Europe and the United States organize by bribing Christian and Jewish leaders, the truth about Azeri intolerance is impossible to cover up.

Azerbaijan’s 10 million population is 96 percent Muslim, of which approximately 65 percent is Shia and 35 percent Sunni. Between 15,000 and 20,000 Jews live in Baku, while there are hardly any Armenians left after they were massacred or deported during the Artsakh war.

The U.S. State Department’s latest annual report (2017) on International Religious Freedom around the world indicates that Azerbaijan discriminates against certain religious groups, even though its laws prohibit the government from interfering in their activities.

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US Lobbying Firm Launders Azerbaijan’s Reputation — And Gets ‘Laundromat’ Cash

This article was originally published by OCCRP

Some of the money that passed through the Azerbaijani Laundromat, a secret money laundering scheme and slush fund that saw €2.5 billion (US$ 2.9 billion) flow out of the country between 2012 and 2014, ended up in the hands of a purportedly private Azerbaijani organization that hired a Virginia firm to lobby the US government for more than a decade.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has earlier reported that other monies from the fund were used to advance the Azerbaijani government’s political agenda, with some ending up in bank accounts belonging to European politicians who spoke highly of President Ilham Aliyev’s regime even as it arrested journalists and political activists. The precise origins of the funds are unknown, hidden behind secretive shell companies. But there is ample evidence that the authoritarian country’s ruling elite is behind them.

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«Others will continue this fight»

One year after the arrest of Afgan Mukhtarli

“Mum, you said that daddy went very far away. We have also gone very far away now. Why can’t we see him now? I want to see my daddy!”

These are the words of Afgan Mukhtarli’s 4-year old daughter Nuray. She and her mother are currently living in Germany. Until Mukhtarli’s abduction last year, the family had been residing in Georgia.

One year ago, on 29 May 2017, the investigative journalist disappeared from the streets of Tbilisi and resurfaced the next day in custody in Azerbaijan. A statement issued by authorities said a criminal case would be launched against him because he had illegally crossed the border, assaulted a border official and smuggled 10,000 euro into the country.

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Azerbaijan again deported citizen of Russia because of armenian last name.

Azerbaijan denied entry for Russian citizen with armenian last name. 81 years old Olga Barsegyan was born in Leningrad, survived the blockade and is a veteran of the Great Patriotic War, was deported from International airport of Baku. Of course the reason for deportation does not state it was the armenian origin. You can check official scan of deportation document – “other reasons“. That what they call it!

Officially Baku does not confirm the undesirability of entry to the territory of Azerbaijan to persons of Armenian origin, but such practice exists. And this was not the first time and I think not the last.

In 2013, a Russian journalist, Anna Sahakyan was not allowed to enter Azerbaijan, later being even declared a persona non grata for her Armenian family name.

In May 2016, an 8-year-old child with an Armenian surname was denied entry to Azerbaijan at Baku’s Heydar Aliyev international airport.

A Russian citizen, M. V. Uyeldanov (Galustyan) was detained in Azerbaijan over his Armenian origin in July 2016.

An Estonian citizen of Armenian origin was held at the airport in the Azerbaijani capital city of Baku for 12 hours and sent back to Estonia in late March.

The border service and Azerbaijani carriers, as a rule, explain the deportation or refusal to admit safety considerations to the board.

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Justice for peace: Alexander Lapshin’s relentless fight

Alexander Lapshin is bereft. The Israeli travel blogger and journalist has been threatened and homeless for the past 17 months. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomed him while he was visiting Europe and North America to meet human rights activists and organisations. As part of a desperate call for international help and support. 

An exhausting fight for his rights

Lapshin was arrested in Belarus in December 2016 at Azerbaijan’s request for having illegally visited Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia, while he was on holiday. He was extradited to Azerbaijan, jailed for nine months and attacked, before receiving President Ilham Aliyev’s pardon.

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Maltese Taxpayers Losing Out in Gas Deal with Azerbaijan

Maltese taxpayers could be losing tens of millions of dollars per year in an energy deal with Azerbaijan, according to expert analysis of leaked files.

A whistleblower gave a cache of data to Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Maltese investigative journalist who was killed by a car bomb last October.

She was not able to publish her findings before her death. But the leaked material was then shared with the Daphne Project, which has been working to complete her reporting. The consortium of 45 investigative reporters from 18 news organizations in 15 countries, including the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Guardian, was organized by Forbidden Stories.

Three energy experts in London have examined the files, which contain pricing information that Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has so far refused to publish.

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Five remarkable things about Azerbaijan’s unremarkable election

Originally published by Eurasianet

Azerbaijan’s presidential election was, as predicted, a non-event. Ever-incumbent leader Ilham Aliyev won his fourth consecutive term with an 86 percent landslide, while his token rivals got crumbs of voter support – in the low single digits – according to early official results. Nevertheless, the vote did manage to produce a number of oddities.

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For many Azerbaijani voters, the only choice is to laugh

Azerbaijani voters go to the polls on April 11 for a presidential election. The outcome of the vote is already known: President Ilham Aliyev will be reelected.

But seven other candidates also are on the ballot, and even if they don’t offer Azerbaijanis a viable choice, they are at least providing a source of humor.

One candidate, Hafiz Hajiyev, is frequently compared to Russia’s Vladimir Zhirinovsky for his vicious, often vulgar attacks on government opponents. Young liberal activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev has undertaken a mock campaign in support of Hafiz Hajiyev with the slogan, “Make Azerbaijan Great Again.”

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Azerbaijan’s Election Is a Farce

The United States should be condemning Ilham Aliyev’s corrupt regime rather than condoning it.

In the past few weeks, first in Russia and then in Egypt, leaders have used so-called elections to provide a patina of legitimacy for their grip on power. Russian President Vladimir Putin secured yet another term with nearly 77 percent of the vote; Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi did even better, nailing down 97 percent of the vote in Egypt. Neither of them deserved congratulations from Western leaders.

In both cases, the outcome of the election was known well before voters went to the polls, as any serious opponents were prevented from running and the cards were solidly stacked in favor of the incumbents. These were not real elections in any sense of the term.

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Azerbaijan’s president prefers pop stars to democracy

RULE ONE of the Dictator’s Handbook: Allow no one else to seriously challenge you in an election. Rule Two: Spend enough of your nation’s treasure to lure a popular Western entertainer to distract from Rule One. Previously, President Ilham Aliyev, son of a strongman who inherited his father’s distaste for democracy, enticed Lady Gaga to perform, then Mariah Carey. Now Mr. Aliyev has booked pop star Christina Aguilera for the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 28.

That will be just 2½ weeks after Wednesday’s presidential election. Mr. Aliyev has so thoroughly suffocated democracy in Azerbaijan that he will certainly win a fourth term by a wide margin. The campaign is entirely uncompetitive. Two opposition parties are calling for a boycott. Mr. Aliyev moved up the election date by six months, perhaps in order to get it out of the way before the auto race, which presumably will be more competitive than the political one.

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