Government getting paranoid in Azerbaijan?
If you didn't know, there are elections coming up in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. Considering that many recent "elections" in the former USSR have sparked pro-Democracy revolutions (Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan), the government of President Ilham Aliyev is understandably getting a little jittery. However, I think that they have gone a little overboard in making sure that the coming elections produce a favorable result.
Wednesday, youth opposition leader Ruslan Bashirli was taken into custody on charges of planning a coup with the help of the Armenian Secret Service and the US-based National Democratic Institute. Supossedly, a member of Bashirli's Yani Fakir youth movement told the authorities that Bahirli had taken $2000 (US) from Armenian operatives at a secret meeting in neighboring Georgia. Allow me to put this into perspective: either Bahirli works for peanuts or these allegations are nothing but hot air. One would think that the down payment on a full-fledged coup (even if you get the stripped down model without all the optional add-ons) would be just a little more than $2000.
If this wasn't enough, the authorities announced today that will "strengthen control over the activities of political parties ahead of parliamentary elections." Well, so much for the pretense of free and fair elections. The government said that the aim of their new policy was just to keep foreign countries from interfering by funding political parties, but something tells me that ensuring that Aliyev stays in power also had something to do with it.
Anyhow, it will certainly be interesting to see how this story develops. Will there be another pro-Democracy revolution in the former USSR?