Monday, February 8

Let's get married... At the Olympic Stadium!

For a while now, we have known much too well that some of the decisions made by the authorities in Azerbaijan aren't always the brightest and are not always [or shall I say not at all?] intended for the people. 

Now, take of instance the Olympic Stadium the government spent over $640million for unnecessary European Games which neither the people nor the country with devalued currency really needed to host. Now that the faith of the next Games hangs by a threat [not that there was much hope anyway from the start] and following second devaluation, and crisis in the country, there has been a decision to use the venue for weddings. "You can hold smaller banquets and weddings", reads the announcement on the official website.  

Now for glitz and glamour drive some very wealthy Azerbaijanis this is wonderful news. Because not many could afford a wedding celebration that would cost 100-150AZN per head [this just makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time thinking about struggling families, men and women barely making a minimum wage and managing to survive]. 

So basically the rich will party, and what not a better way to party than on the Olympic Stadium- imagine the stories you can tell your friends years later- we got marred on the stadium! 

One of the officials to embrace the idea was the Minister of Sports who said he has actually seen this happen in Madrid. So curious me went on Google to find out the lucky couples who have tied the knot in Madrid. Unfortunately I didn't find anything. Wonder if the Minister could share some of the examples. 

For those making profits out of this, this might mean good cash. Who knows who is behind this "wonderful" idea?! 

And here is another recent development lacking any common sense. At least to me. Remember the Formula 1 race Azerbaijan is to host this June? Well, turns out it isn't just a one time thing. Apparently, there is a contract Azerbaijan signed and it ought to comply for the next five years with all the requirements and if need be host as many races because that's part of the deal. And that if it refuses to comply it will have to pay a hefty fine! 

Just a small reminder that officially these games are costing Azerbaijan $12million. Unofficially there is a talk about 150million.The minister of Youth and Sports was quick to dismiss the latter saying soon there will be official reports on all of the spending [please bring me popcorn when and if that happens] and that there is no way it can cost 150million but failed to provide any sensible breakdown of all expenditures [because apparently it would be very difficult for him to sight all the figures- haha! humor me place!] 

In the meantime, the government found ways to "save" on other things like for instance cutting off electricity after 10pm. 

Of course, who cares about the homes where there is no heating and the only heating there is comes from electric heaters and so on. Who cares about homes where there are babies. Who cares that there are elderly people. Who cares! And thats the whole logic of this country. Because nobody cares. Not one decision maker on top does not care or has something else in their heads instead of brains. 

I wonder if this curfew also would extend to Olympic Stadium weddings...

Wednesday, February 3

How government of Azerbaijan educates its outspoken bloggers?

There are few things the government of Azerbaijan is really good at. Intimidation, pressure, crackdown on dissent and so on- are some of its signature moves. But there is more including arrests, beating and murder. 

But there is also the “ethical conversations” which take place between officials of Ministry of Internal Affairs (sometimes also by notorious Band Hotel) and the activists. Often they disappear for some time while the Ministry staff "works on" what Russians would describe as “vospitaniye” [воспитание] which translates into “education” but doesn’t really do justice to the actual meaning of its word (although if you think of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall" you would get a better idea). 

They “explain” and “talk sense” into these men that what they are doing is essentially wrong and they should not be complaining, creating noise, and disagreeing with what government says and does. 

This time, the representatives of Ministry of Internal Affairs were trying to talk sense into a young blogger, Khalid Khanlarov. The young man was arrested few days ago and sentenced to 25 days in administrative detention for resisting police on January 23. 

Khanlarov was administrator of a popular Facebook page “Ditdili” that was critical of the government. And so it is obvious that it wasn’t him resisting the police but the authorities resisting Khanlarov’s outspokenness. 

His lawyer Shahla Humbatova says her client was forced to write a confession and in return he was given the 25 days otherwise she says he was threatened with 6-7 years sentence. 

Khanlarov’s mother was also called into the police. “Your son will meet a man named Farid from Ministry of Internal Affairs”, said the deputy chief to Khanlarov’s mother during the meeting. Later, Khanlarov speaking to his mother told her this meeting, where he was “educated”. After that he was taken to police station no.4 in Binagadi district from where he was taken to the court and received the 25 days sentence. 

So just fyi- it isn't just glitzy events Aliyevistan is good at while hiding the rest of the truth behind high walls [aka belt of happiness], when it comes to muting dissent, it can make money off consulting others how to do this best.