Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Let's not be offensive!

As we learn from a recent RFE article, the journalists from Yeni Musavat are the latest members of the press to come under pressure in Azerbaijan. While the journalists aren't under fire from the government, the source of their problems is damn close. The president's brother - Jalal Aliyev - said he was offended by an article an article that claimed some unfinished buildings in the capital belong to him. The article also maintained that no one complains about their incomplete status because they're owned by the president's brother.

Makes sense to me - but Jalal is offended by this assertion.

I'm reminded of a few things.

1. The many construction sites all over Baku - sites that grew like mushrooms, in defiance of any understanding of the law of supply and demand. Who was going to live in these luxury apartments? Everyone just assumed that construction was some not so secret way of money laundering.

2. The conversation I had with a newspaper editor in the country, not long after I moved there. In our conversations, at a certain point he referred to another newspaper being owned by the family. I asked "what family?" "The family," he informed me, was the term referring to the president's family. It's not like the president himself owned all that much - but rather the holdings were like some sort of large & extended business.

So - his brother is in the family & he owns a bunch of buildings.

Surprised? I'm not.


Ani said...

And the priceless end to the article: "Parliament members from the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party said the country cannot simply accept laws that come from Western Europe."

But one thing it does show to me once again is just how much the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have in common. Take these two recent stories:

Mayor of Moscow Luzhkov comes to Armenia and a grand new "upscale" development is announced for $6 billion dollars, "equivalent to more than two-thirds of Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product in 2009." Poor people who live there now will be displaced, of course, and there are all sorts of vacant and unwanted "upscale" apartments in Yerevan already, but Luzkhov's wife is a big property developer in Moscow, so... http://bit.ly/aZFkff

And yesterday, another story listing the properties of the former and current Armenian presidents show how well it pays to be "in the family" in Armenia, too: http://tinyurl.com/yff5kst

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