US Opinion and Commentary

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Azerbaijan Imprisoned Me. Pharrell Williams and Others Should Stop Helping My Jailers

Posted June 20th, 2016 at 11:03 am (UTC-4)
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This weekend, the Formula 1 European Grand Prix will run through the beautiful streets of Old Baku…Pharrell Williams, Chris Brown and Enrique Iglesias were slated to entertain race fans, helping to promote the ruling Aliyev family’s projection of my country as a happy, normal nation. But Azerbaijan is a country that runs on corruption.

Karabakh: A Renewed Conflict in the Caucausas

Posted April 27th, 2016 at 1:05 pm (UTC-4)
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Karabakh is one of the world’s least-discussed and most intractable quarrels….Russia is opportunistically in the middle. Moscow says it wants to broker a lasting peace deal, but it has also been arming both sides. The United States also hopes to prevent a wider conflict but has little diplomatic leverage.

Putin Fills Another Leadership Void in Nagorno-Karabakh

Posted April 12th, 2016 at 4:09 pm (UTC-4)
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The overstretched Obama White House may view Putin’s gains as a price worth paying to quell the current violence and keep an additional crisis off its plate. Such benign neglect, however, creates opportunities for Kremlin exploitation in a region that connects Turkey, Russia, Iran, Central Asia and Caspian energy supplies.

Oil Dictator Dominos

Posted February 8th, 2016 at 4:45 pm (UTC-4)
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Central Asia’s oil-producing dictatorships, including Azerbaijan, have been among the countries hardest hit by the drop in prices – especially because, as ex-Soviet states, they remain heavily dependent on trade with Russia, another oil producer.

“We Are Appalled…”

Posted September 4th, 2015 at 12:57 pm (UTC-4)
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Another blow to press freedom was leveled this week when Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison by a court in Baku. She was found guilty of criminal libel, tax evasion, illegal business activity and abuse of power. Most observers say she was guilty of doing her job. Ismayilova’s reporting for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty exposed corruption by Azerbaijani Presidennt Ilham Aliyev and his family. Jeff Shell, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees RFERL and Voice of America, denounced the Azerbaijani government for demonstrating “to the international community that it disdains press freedom, supports its own impunity and has little regard for human rights.” The State Department said it was “deeply troubled” by the sentencing and urged Azerbaijan to release Ismayilova and other incarcerated journalists.

Azerbaijan’s Injustice

Posted August 17th, 2015 at 9:44 am (UTC-4)
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President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, who in the last year and a half has turned with a vengeance against journalists, lawyers and human rights activists, has jailed about 100 people on trumped-up charges. One by one, he is now throwing away the keys, hoping to silence them forever.

Letter from Azerbaijani Jail: Khadija Ismayilova Speaks Out

Posted June 12th, 2015 at 9:21 am (UTC-4)
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The eyes of the world are on my country, my beloved Azerbaijan, as it hosts the inaugural European Games, beginning on Friday … But I will not see the games … I am sitting in my cell in the Kurdakhani prison — my home for the past six months.