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.

Read more “Maltese Taxpayers Losing Out in Gas Deal with Azerbaijan”

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.

Read more “Five remarkable things about Azerbaijan’s unremarkable election”

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.”

Read more “For many Azerbaijani voters, the only choice is to laugh”

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.

Read more “Azerbaijan’s Election Is a Farce”

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.

Read more “Azerbaijan’s president prefers pop stars to democracy”

Turkish Racism

In case the ongoing, periodic massacres of Armenians in and/or by the Ottoman Empire and its willing and eager collaborators weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the 1905 massacres of Armenians by “Tatars” (which were reciprocated)—as Azerbaijanis were referred to back then—weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the Armenian Genocide wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the simultaneous genocide of Assyrians and Greeks wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the 1918 Baku massacres by locals and Enver Pasha’s “Army of Islam” weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

In case the 1920 sacking of Shushi, a vibrant Armenian cultural center, and its accompanying massacres weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;

Read more “Turkish Racism”