If there is any version of democracy in Azerbaijan then it comes in a form of stuffed ballot box. Because there was certainly a lot of it going on during the Election Day and the vote count.
The precinct where I had the chance to observe- Yasamal second precinct no. 16- had two polling stations- number nine and number ten. Each had 6 members representing election commission- one deputy, two secretaries and three members. Most of the observers present at the precinct were the ruling party members with the rest being the teachers from the gymnasium where the polling stations were. There were four independent observers including me. I was the only one with a camera and journalist credentials. The magic was in the air all day long. It felt magical to be part of such skilled group of magicians.
My presence was disturbing to the process and its implementers. It was clear from the looks and the constant attempt to have me occupied talking to other members of the election commission or the observers. As an observer one is allowed to walk around and watch the process, take photographs if need be. Walking however was strongly disapproved at these two polling stations. I was repeatedly asked to present my journalism credentials. The dislike was also clear from questions about my affiliation. At one point, local observers from polling station number 10 asked me repeatedly who I represented. Saying I was independent didn't help. Suspicious and dreadful looks continued.
Not all of them were this evil. They still rigged and falsified elections, but they did it smiling, and talking to me, pretending I was naive enough not to see what they were doing. Some complemented me on my looks, others on how sweet I was. In reality, they all were looking forward to me being gone. I appreciated in fact the honesty of one of the members from the election commission who said "I don't like young girls who preach like this one".
After that I left. I knew there was no point of me staying there- even if they left everything as it was when I was leaving the building, the job was done, the results were already determined...