A Eurovision story

Ex Caucasus semper aliquid novo:

Rovshan Nasirli, a young Eurovision fan living in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, says he was summoned this week to the country’s National Security Ministry — to explain why he had voted for Armenia during this year’s competition in May.

“They wanted an explanation for why I voted for Armenia. They said it was a matter of national security,” Nasirli said. “They were trying to put psychological pressure on me, saying things like, ‘You have no sense of ethnic pride. How come you voted for Armenia?’ They made me write out an explanation, and then they let me go.”

A total of 43 Azeris voted for the Armenian duo Inga and Anush, and their song, “Jan-Jan.”

Nasirli, like others, used his mobile phone to send a text message expressing his preference, little imagining his vote would eventually result in a summons from national security officials. (By contrast, 1,065 Armenians voted for the Azerbaijani team, apparently without consequence.)

— That’s actually a fairly good index of the relative freedoms of the two countries. Armenia is a managed democracy, where the opposition is kept pretty toothless. Last year, when the government got tired of peaceful protests over a stolen election, they gunned down a bunch of protesters in the street. (And then blamed the opposition, of course.) Continue reading

Narinci?

Meanwhile on the borderlands, SueAndNotU sends a reminder that Azerbaijan will be holding parliamentary elections on November 6. The country’s current president, Ilham Aliyev, essentially inherited the job from his father, who had also been Azerbaijan’s communist boss before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Add oil, ubiquitous corruption, the loss of nearly a fifth of the country’s land in a dispute over an Armenian-settled area called Nagorno-Karabakh and something like half a million internally displaced persons resulting from this conflict, and you have a situation ripe for popular discontent. Which is indeed what we find.
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