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Azerbaijan: Blackmail Video Made Public, Possible Imminent Release of Political Prisoners

Azerbaijan: Blackmail Video Made Public, Possible Imminent Release of Political Prisoners

It was bound to happen, although I prayed that it wouldn’t. But at least one web site in Azerbaijan has now released the blackmail video involving well-known correspondent Khadija Ismayilova. In response, Khadija has issued a public statement, quoted in an RFE/RL article, saying that she will not be deterred: “If they meant to stop […]

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Azeri Journalist Alleges Blackmail Attempt

Azeri Journalist Alleges Blackmail Attempt

Azerbaijan’s best-known journalist (who also happens to be Azerbaijan’s best journalist, period) alleged yesterday that she is being victimized in a blackmail attempt. Khadija Ismayilova, who writes for a number of publications and hosts the popular “After Work” radio show for RFE/RL’s Baku bureau, made the allegations after receiving a letter containing photographs of a […]

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Sudden, Violent Demonstration Erupts in Northern Azerbaijan

Sudden, Violent Demonstration Erupts in Northern Azerbaijan

Thousands of protesters took to the streets early today in the northern Azeri city of Quba in what became a scene of violence as police fired tear gas and clubbed demonstrators. Radio Free Europe reports that four people were injured, according to authorities, and I have been told that a videographer from an opposition news agency […]

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South Ossetian Presidential Candidate Hospitalized After Police Raid, May Leave Politics

South Ossetian Presidential Candidate Hospitalized After Police Raid, May Leave Politics

After being hospitalized last Thursday under mysterious circumstances, the winner of November’s South Ossetian presidential election had, as of yesterday, told the press that she may leave politics and is reportedly considering asking for asylum in an unnamed country. Alla Dzhiolyeva, 62, was transferred on Monday from intensive care to a “regular ward” in a […]

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Car Bomb Defused in Tbilisi, Israeli Embassy Target

Car Bomb Defused in Tbilisi, Israeli Embassy Target

Georgian authorities report today that a bomb planted in the car of an employee of the Israeli embassy was defused by police. The employee was, according to Georgian TV news station Rustavi 2, a Georgian citizen by the name of Roman Khachaturian, a driver for the embassy and the luckiest man in Tbilisi. Khachaturian told […]

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Azerbaijan: Fallout from Tagi Murder, New Internet Protest Movement, and an American Ambassador Goes Home

Azerbaijan: Fallout from Tagi Murder, New Internet Protest Movement, and an American Ambassador Goes Home

There is no real progress to report on the investigation into the murder of Rafiq Tagi, although as I mentioned shortly after his death, a number of theories—some of them rational, others not—cropped up immediately on social networking sites and internet forums. My guess is that Tagi was killed by Islamists who were incensed by […]

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Jabbar Savalan released from prison!

Jabbar Savalan released from prison!

News out of Baku courtesy of Radio Free Europe and the viral Azerbaijan rumor mill is that Jabbar Savalan was released from prison today (26 December) in a general amnesty granted by President Aliyev. As noted earlier on this blog, clemencies for political prisoners are not uncommon, and usually take place to coincide with some […]

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Caucasus Year in Review, Part II: Azerbaijan

Caucasus Year in Review, Part II: Azerbaijan

For Azerbaijan’s political and human rights landscape, 2011 was a year of tumult, small triumphs, and anguish. I’ve written a great deal on topics this year such as the arrests and imprisonment of Jabbar Savalan and Bakhtiar Hajiyev, the opposition protests in February through mid-June, and the tragic death of Rafiq Tagi, stabbed to death […]

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Caucasus Year in Review Part I: Georgia and Armenia

Caucasus Year in Review Part I: Georgia and Armenia

Georgia 2011 was the year when former Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze put the finishing touches on her long campaign to discredit former Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze. Ms. Burjanadze began her re-branding effort from responsible, clear-headed opposition leader to uncompromising radical after forming her own political party in 2008. The disastrous Russo-Georgian War in the same […]

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Iranian Ayatollah Praises Rafiq Tagi’s Assassins

Iranian Ayatollah Praises Rafiq Tagi’s Assassins

The son of the Iranian ayatollah who issued the 2006 fatwah calling for the assassination of Azeri author Rafiq Tagi has issued a statement on his web site praising Tagi’s murderers. Sheikh Mohammed Fazel Lankarani, a prominent ayatollah like his late father, has written on his site that “Without a doubt, the man who performed […]

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Rafiq Tagi, 1950-2011

Rafiq Tagi, 1950-2011

I just wanted to post this powerful photo taken by Aziz Elkhanoglu today at Rafiq Tagi’s funeral.

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Rafiq Tagi, noted Azeri writer, dies in hospital after knife attack

Rafiq Tagi, noted Azeri writer, dies in hospital after knife attack

Another sad day for Azerbaijan, a country saddled with more than its fair share of injustice and pain. Rafiq Tagi, who was hospitalized a mere three days ago after being stabbed by unknown assailants, died today in a Baku hospital of complications after initial treatment for his wounds and surgery to remove his spleen. He […]

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Azerbaijani writer reportedly stabbed, hospitalized

Azerbaijani writer reportedly stabbed, hospitalized

In a shocking incident, independent journalist Rafiq Tagi was stabbed repeatedly today in Baku, according to this RFE/RL report. Tagi is best known for his thought piece entitled “Europe and Us,” published in 2007 in the Sanat newspaper. In the article, Tagi compared modern Muslim societies to their European counterparts, and argued that Islam had […]

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Hilary Swank celebrates dictator’s birthday in Chechnya

Hilary Swank celebrates dictator’s birthday in Chechnya

Morally bankrupt movie star Hilary Swank attended the festive birthday party of dictator Ramzan Kadyrov in the Chechen capital of Grozny on Wednesday, accompanied by a number of other celebrities including pop culture oddity Jean-Claude Van Damme and British violinist Vanessa Mae. Reportedly, Ms Mae was paid half a million dollars to attend the party […]

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Olympic Bribery Allegations Against Azerbaijan: What Will the Investigation Discover?

Recent accusations that millions of dollars were funneled from Azerbaijan in exchange for assurances that Azerbaijani boxers would win gold medals at the London Olympic Games in 2012 have led to denials from the world’s Olympic boxing organization, indignation from Baku, and an ad hoc committee that will investigate the claims. Since the the airing […]

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About the Author

Karl Rahder
Karl Rahder

Karl Rahder has written on the South Caucasus for ISN Security Watch and ISN Insights (http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Current-Affairs/ISN-Insights), news and global affairs sites run by the Swiss government. Karl splits his time between the US and the former USSR - mostly the Caucasus and Ukraine, sometimes teaching international relations at universities (in Chicago, Baku, Tbilisi) or working on stories for ISN and other publications. Karl received his MA from the University of Chicago, and first came to the Caucasus in 2004 while on a CEP Visiting Faculty Fellowship. He's reported from the Caucasus on topics such as attempted coups, sedition trials, freedom of the press, and the frozen Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. For many years, Karl has also served as an on-call election observer for the OSCE, and in 2010, he worked as a long-term observer in Afghanistan for Democracy International.

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