Azerbaijan. BP and other oil companies drilled for new
oil deposits in the Caspian Sea, and the country's oil boom
seemed to be prolonged. Critics found that Azerbaijan's
growing oil wealth contributed to increasing economic gaps
and widespread corruption. According to the independent
organization Transparency International's corruption index,
Azerbaijan ranked 143 out of 180 countries in the world. The
oil money is used only with the approval of President Ilham
Alijev and is mainly collected by the political elite. US
media reported that a number of fashionable beach villas in
Dubai had been bought for high sums in the name of President
Alijev's eleven-year-old son.
At the same time, unemployment, poverty and lack of
community service were striking outside the oil-rich Baku.
Tens of thousands of refugees from the war in
Nagorno-Karabakh had still not been given proper housing,
more than a decade and a half after the war.
COUNTRYAAH, President Aliyev visited the United States in September
and met President Barack Obama, who urged him to release the
two bloggers sentenced to two and a half years in prison
each for hooliganism. The two men had published a
regime-critical satire in the form of a video in which a
donkey held a press conference.
Ahead of the November parliamentary elections, the human
rights group Human Rights Watch accused Azerbaijan's regime
of forcibly preventing free elections, imprisoning
journalists and physically attacking reporters. An
Azerbaijani democracy group stated that many opposition
candidates were removed from the ballot boxes, and
opposition leaders were attacked and slandered in the media.
In the election movement, campaign meetings were only
allowed in certain places.
According to the Electoral Commission, the Aliyev
regime's party of power won New Azerbaijan and took 72 of
the 125 seats in parliament. The president's wife was
reported to have been re-elected with 94.49 percent of the
vote in her constituency. Many mandates went to independent
candidates, almost all loyal to the regime. Only one elected
candidate was known for his regime criticism, İgbal Agazade
from the party Umid (Hope). Neither the People's Front nor
the Muslim opposition party Musavat got its leaders. Western
electoral observers explained that the election had not been
free, fair or democratic, with widespread electoral fraud,
threats and harassment, double voting, full voting ballots
and voting irregularities. The public front and Musavat
demanded new elections.
In November, an imprisoned journalist, Eynulla
Fatullayev, got part of his indictment dismissed by the
Supreme Court. It was about rioting for terrorist offenses
and ethnic animosity, which Fatullayev sentenced for 2007.
However, the prison sentence for drug possession remained.
Later that month, Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli, the two
bloggers convicted of the ass ass, were released.