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.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Azerbaijan has a population of 9.981 million (2019). 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.