Nearly five years after the Azerbaijani government began a renewed crackdown on dissenting voices, the environment remains hostile for opposition parties. The authorities create the semblance of a multi-party system by financing political parties whose role is to function as the opposition while maintaining the status quo. Some fear that suppressing genuine opposition and excluding it from the political arena will lead to more radical forms of activism, which could ultimately be damaging for the state.
The lack of job opportunities and development prospects in the rural regions of Azerbaijan has provoked a population influx to the capital, and the rapid growth of Baku’s population has increased the load on the city’s infrastructure. Problems faced by the metropolis and its inhabitants include gas cutoffs, waste management issues, water shortages, and traffic jams. [Read more…]
Enterprising young people in South Ossetia have lots of ideas for improving their homeland but the challenges are many. Few opportunities to develop a career at home, even fewer opportunities to travel abroad, a lack of cultural and recreational facilities, and a dearth of funding for youth initiatives mean the obstacles can seem insurmountable. Nevertheless, many are willing to try.
Last week, Grozny’s Staropromyslovsky District Court rejected an appeal from Oyub Titiyev’s lawyer, Pyotr Zaikin, to have his case transferred to another region of the North Caucasus. Titiyev, the head of Russian rights group Memorial’s Chechen branch, is the latest government critic to be prosecuted on drug charges in the republic. Zaikin says the drugs were planted by police and insists Titiyev will not receive a fair trial in Chechnya, he also accused the Russian Investigative Committee of being unwilling to get to the truth of the matter.
From 13 April, marches, meetings, and other acts of protest took place across Armenia as part of the ‘My Step’ initiative from the Civil Contract Party, and their leader Nikol Pashinyan. Protesters were struggling against the premiership of Armenia’s third President, Serzh Sargsyan. In the weeks of demonstrations, students made up the bulk of the protesters committing acts of civil disobedience, throughout Yerevan and beyond.
Magomed Khazbiyev, a well-known Ingush opposition figure and public activist, has been in a detention facility in the town of Karabulak since 11 January. He is being accused of illegal possession of weapons. He claims that the charges have been fabricated. His lawyers insist upon his release. Khazbiyev suffers from ulcers and skin disease. A suspect under investigation with such diseases should be released for treatment.
Since exiled Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli disappeared from Tbilisi, reappearing a day later in an Azerbaijani jail, suspicions of Georgian involvement in his kidnapping have remained. Mukhtarli himself has accused the Georgian government of complicity, and while this is a charge they deny, local rights groups are becoming impatient with the pace and transparency of the official investigation into his disappearance.
For better or worse, Turkish culture exerts a considerable influence on modern Azerbaijani youth culture. While for many films, television, music, and literature from Turkey offer a window into the wider world, some worry it is supplanting Azerbaijan’s own culture. [Read more…]