Tuesday, November 18

Aliyev's very own russian roulette

There is a song called "Let it be" by Labrinth. It goes something like this: 
Baby this is a Russian roulette
And it ain't my gun
Hallelujaj I ain't dead yet
And I'm still going strong
I don't know about tomorrow
But the battle ain't done
In our version of the story, it is our government holding the gun. They control, they spin, they pick, they shoot. There you have it, another sacrifice is made, another rights defender jailed, journalist threatened, voice silenced. 

You have to understand, this is the reality. Its not the flame towers, its not the new trump tower and revolving bar at the top of new hilton hotel. Its none of that. You know what it is?! It is how government shits and vomits on its very own people, and on its very own kind. This is the extent of respect. Because they know they can do it. No matter what. Because the people are silenced. Fear has taken over them while hunger blinded them.
In this reality, some take the shit and the vomit. Some build walls around them to avoid it but only temporarily.

This is the reality! Roulette spins, red or white, odd or even, it doesn't matter, because the government holds the control button and they hold the gun. 

And very few brave ones are ready to step in, and take the bullet. This is the reality of our Azerbaijan. 

There is another line in that song that goes:
I'mma go out fightin'
And leave my scars
I don't know about tomorrow
But I know I got heart
There, that is one thing that keeps the brave ones going I suppose- them knowing they have a heart and keep on fighting. For how long though? When will it all end?

Thursday, November 13

Ivanka Trump's sophisticated stilettos in a la-la land

She said, "This incredible building reflects the highest level of luxury and refinement, with extraordinary architecture inspired by the Caspian Sea and sophisticated interiors that seamlessly blend contemporary style with timeless appeal". 

She is Ivanka Trump. The incredible building she is talking about is the new Trump building that will feature 72 ultra luxury residences, 30 suites, 40 serviced apartments and 119 guest rooms. 

Mind you, this is yet another tower in the series of "towers" built in the capital of Azerbaijan over the past few years. The notorious Flame Towers, the 4 Seasons Hotel (with the most tea set I have ever paid in my life - 70AZN for a pot of tea with some sweets), the Hilton and many other luxury developments have sprung in the capital to cater for the needs of foreign guests. Because if I was pensioner in Azerbaijan there is no way I could afford that tea set at the Four Seasons for sure. 

So why the fuss?!

Hmm... for starters lets the take the fairness issue here. I mean when you look at all the recent construction boom in Baku (I am saying Baku because outside of our Dubai wanna-be capital the only thing that's constructed is Olympic Centers and maybe a few schools, which lack basics like toilet for instance or villages where there is still no sewage system and etc.) it isn't really for the local folks unless of course they are the rich (and/or famous) of Baku. 

I mean I get that we want to built a second Dubai. I get that we want to be described as the pearl of the Orient or whatever that expression is but shouldn't some basic services be fixed first. Head out of Baku (way pass the "belt of happiness") and drive South or North or straight. Visit a remote village where people still have limited access to basic services (and I am not even talking about proper roads to reach some remote villages). 

This is why, I am not getting people like Ivanka, who talk about beauty, modernity and bla bla bla when she (and others) can hardly see beyond the tip of her stilettos (and other shoes). 

And there is another side to this story. The construction partner of Ivanka's luxury refinement is Garant Holding. For those of you who don't know, here is a brief background on the company. The Chairman of the Board of Directors and the CEO of Garant Holding is Mammadov Anar, son of Ziya Mammadov, the Minister of Transportation. The company is known for its ventures in infrastructure development, construction, oil and gas production, international trade and so on. If you do not recall, two years ago, Mammadov Junior was involved in a scandal of "one mighty bear", whom he wanted to eat and ordered the restaurant owner to cook in exchange for 1million USD. Surely Mammadov denied the accusations and sued the papers which circulated the story.

But Garant is not the only family business of Azerbaijan's Minister. There is also the ZQAN holding. Radio Liberty in partnership with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Projected published an investigative story on the company few years back revealing some more fascinating facts about family's growing empire.

You are seeing the bigger picture now? 

Who needs a school with proper functioning toilet (yes, we still have many schools across the country which resort to old methods of the Romans, Egyptians and others who were part of the grand invention) when one can enjoy the life of royals in the heart of Baku. It is so much more sophisticated and appealing.