The Los Angeles Times Has Some Criticism for Azerbaijan’s Elite
Most of the time, most media outlets don’t really talk about Azerbaijan that much. And when they do, it’s about oil and gas. And then sometimes it’s about human rights issues. Very seldom is there a lot for the media to say about the elite members of Azerbaijan society and government. The Los Angeles Times blog Babylon and Beyond, however, has a blog post dedicated to some of the Wikileaks cables and expands on them to give some background on Azerbaijan’s well-to-do. It wasn’t exactly flattering:
Two cables, which originated from the U.S. Embassy in Baku in January and February of this year, range from the catty – comments on the Azerbaijan first lady’s plastic surgery – to the downright gossipy – the private jet preferences of a minister’s sons.
They are the first in a series titled “Who Owns What,” profiling the “small handful of players” who control both the political and business fields in Azerbaijan – and who collude, conspire and amass fantastic wealth at the expense of reform, market competition and real democracy in their country, according to the cables. The remaining cables in that series have not yet been released.
I haven’t read the cables, themselves, but the blog probably has it covered. I only really have two things to note here. First, I think it’s probably the case that there are people who ‘collude, conspire and amass fantastic wealth at the expense of reform, market competition and real democracy’ almost everywhere. That’s not exactly news. It is interesting, though. And provides a good understanding of the term plutocracy when discussing post-Soviet republics. Second, I like how the blog writer is focused on the gossipy flavor the cables exhibit:
The January cable, which shares a tone with the series “True Hollywood Stories” on E! Entertainment Television…
Last, before I managed to get away from this story, I happened to click through and find that Ms. Haley Edwards is writing a nice blog from Georgia called The Haley Bureau. She’s writing more posts about Wikileaks documents out of the Caucasus area, and she has this post on riding night trains in Azerbaijan that caught my eye, seeing as I am an unquiet supporter of all things night train. She only mentioned the kupe (4-person room) and plaskart (open-style sleeper car, no walls) options, but I really recommend the two-person room, the SV, especially if you have a travel partner. It’s worth the extra few AZN.