Foreign Policy Blogs

Caucasus

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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Azerbaijan: yet another opposition lawyer disbarred

Another of Azerbaijan’s prominent defense lawyers was effectively disbarred late last week, the third such incident involving attorneys for opposition figures in recent months. Elchin Namazov, who had been representing four defendants involved in street protests in April, was expelled from Azerbaijan’s “Collegium,” an organization that vets attorneys for participation in felony trials. Lawyers Khalid […]

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Azerbaijan: Convictions for Protesters and Former Parliament Candidate

Azerbaijan: Convictions for Protesters and Former Parliament Candidate

Azerbaijani courts have convicted and sentenced seven defendants in cases relating to protests in April of this year and the parliamentary elections last November. Six defendants (Babek Hasanov, Zulfugar Eyvazov, Elshan Hasanov, Arif Alishli, Elnur Israfilov and Sahib Karimov) in Baku were convicted of charges of “organizing actions resulting in the violation of public order […]

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Georgia: Nino Burjanadze’s Husband Sentenced in Absentia

Georgia: Nino Burjanadze’s Husband Sentenced in Absentia

Badri Bitsadze, the husband of opposition leader Nino Burjanadze, was sentenced by a Tbilisi court on Friday to five years and six months in prison on charges stemming from violent demonstrations in late May. Bitsadze—whose whereabouts have been unknown for months—was sentenced in absentia by the court. Rumors have persisted since early June that he […]

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Amnesty International Petition on Behalf of Jabbar Savalan

Amnesty International Petition on Behalf of Jabbar Savalan

Amnesty International has put up a petition addressed to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, appealing for the release of Jabbar Savalan, the young pro-democracy activist who was charged with drug possession and convicted in May. As noted on this blog earlier, Savalan was arrested “after calling for protest actions on Facebook and attending a youth conference in […]

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Nagorno-Karabakh: cause for optimism?

I wonder if something significant is brewing regarding the Karabakh issue.  Yes, yes, I know: “something significant” has seemed to be in the offing year after year after year.  And no breakthrough ever takes place. But I say this because the three OSCE Minsk Group presidents (Barack Obama, Dmitri Medvedev, and Nicolas Sarkozy) issued a very unusual […]

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Two dead in Georgian protest violence

Two dead in Georgian protest violence

Reports out of Tbilisi indicate that at least two people were killed early today (26 May) during a police crackdown on demonstrators outside the Parliament building on Rustavelli Avenue.  Police moved in shortly after the midnight, when the permit for the opposition rally expired, intent on clearing the area for today’s Independence Day parade, which […]

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Azerbaijan: Fatullayev released from prison, Hajiyev sent to prison

Azeri journalist Eynullah Fatullayev, who has been serving a variety of prison sentences since April of 2007, was given his freedom today in one of President Aliyev’s amnesties.  As readers of this blog are aware, the charges against Fatullayev had ranged from libel to inciting terror to tax evasion – and more recently, to drug […]

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