Sunday, November 26, 2006

Is Azerbaijan becoming as authoritarian as Armenia?

It looks like Mr. Ilham Aliev, the president of Azerbaijan, is emulating what Mr. Robert Kocharian, the president of Armenia, has been doing for years.

BBC reports that the Azeri authorities have closed an independent TV station because it didn't renew its license, and have evicted a political party and a newspaper because they haven't paid their rent. Apparently, they do not have laws protecting the rights of the tenants :)

Well, the surprise for me in this report was that there actually are independent TV stations, newspapers and political parties in Azerbaijan. All the news we get out of that country is that the elections get falsified, and people opposing the current regime get beaten up and thrown in jail. Apparently, things are not as bad as that - well, maybe things were not as bad until this weekend.

Armenia, on the other hand, pretends to be a democratic country. And yet, there hasn't been an independent TV station there since Mr. Kocharian closed the A1+ TV a few years ago. Opposition political parties have been harassed a number of times in the past. Take the Jarangutyun party which got evicted for, I think, not paying rent a year or so ago. The Hanrapetutyun party's offices were raided and ransacked without warrant right after the police beat the opposition protesters after the crooked presidential elections in 2003.

Looks like Armenia is not any better than Azerbaijan.

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