Observations of an American journalist in Azerbaijan, Russia and USA.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Last night we lost power for at least six hours. This seems like a prosaic enough event, but as I mentioned earlier, I view apparently innocent developments through a political lens. What does this new construction project mean? The shiny new currency issued two weeks before the election?
The power outage is probably just an infrastructure problem. We lose electricity service from time to time. It happens often. Usually, the outage doesn't last six hours, but.....
Earlier this summer, a friend was telling me about the last presidential election, when apparently real competition existed and it was possible that the president's power might be shaken. The opposition was active - as opposed to this year, when for the most part it is boycotting the election. When the opposition candidate attempted to hold events, however, mysterious power outages occurred in the vicinity. This was not only inconvenient; it severely handicapped the opposition's attempts to get publicity, already an uphill battle. Here's a good report on the 2003 election, in which the government was widely condemned for its manipulation of the vote.
So, when the lights go out, I wonder.
(Above is one of the boards posted around the downtown, displaying the candidates. The president's picture is in the top left corner. Also, a photo of another large "beautification" project down by the boulevard.)