Azerbaijan’s Despotic Ruler Throws ‘Tantrum’ In Unprecedented Crackdown On Pro-Democracy Rivals

Facing growing public dissent over corruption, a mismanaged economy, his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and no progress in the country’s long-running conflict with neighboring Armenia, Azerbaijan’s strong-arm ruler Ilham Aliyev decided to crack down on the opposition.

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Criminal case launched against exiled blogger Ordukhan Teymurkhan

A Baku district court issued an arrest warrant against Netherlands-based Azerbaijani video blogger and social media activist Ordukhan Teymurkhan, Radio Liberty reported last Friday relying on a source from the Prosecutor’s Office.

Teymurkhan is charged under three articles of the criminal code relating to calls for terrorism, mass riots and attacks against the state, the sentence for which is up to eight years in prison.

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Political émigré who returned home to visit critically ill father arrested on drug-related charges (updated)

Azad Hasanov, Musavat party member and political exile living in Lithuania, has been arrested during a short return to his home country and charged with drug trafficking.

According to his lawyer, Osman Kazimov, the Khatai District Court sentenced him to four months in detention on drug-related charges. Under Article 234.4.3 (illegal manufacturing, purchase, storage, transportation, transfer or selling of sale of drugs), Hasanov faces between five and twelve years in prison.

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To punish or pardon?

The number of political prisoners in Azerbaijan remains approximately the same from year to year. The president regularly signs pardon decrees but the “vacancies” on bunk beds in prisons are quickly occupied by newly-arrived opponents of the political elite of Azerbaijan.

The following is a Meydan TV report about how the possibility of pardon is used to manipulate political prisoners and how the prisoners themselves have become bargaining chips in the Azerbaijani government’s foreign policy.

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Silk Way Airline once linked to Azerbaijan’s ruling family got US loan guarantees, military contracts, planes

Through opaque contracts, an Azerbaijani cargo airline once linked to the ruling Aliyev family has an impressive range of business partners — including the US military.

A cargo airline owned by a company with past ties to Azerbaijan’s ruling Aliyev family won some lucrative contracts from the U.S. military, according to documents obtained in 2016 through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed in the U.S. by a reporter for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

In late 2005, as the war in Afghanistan was in its fourth year, the U.S. government began contracting with the carrier, Silk Way Airlines, to transport ammunition and other non-lethal materials to U.S.-trained Afghan forces and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the country.

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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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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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