Azerbaijan. The oppression of the political opposition in Azerbaijan continued at the same time as the outside world, including Sweden, competed for access to the country’s gas and oil wealth. During the year, Azerbaijan signed an agreement with Turkey on the construction of the Trans Anadolu pipeline, which, when expected to be completed in 2017, is intended to transport 16 billion cubic meters of gas per year from the Caspian Sea through Turkey to Europe.
The oil and gas boom is making the corrupt regime great, while at the same time prices and living costs for ordinary residents have been pushed up to a level comparable to cities in Western Europe. However, an average salary in Azerbaijan is less than $ 400 a month.
But criticism of poverty, corruption and political repression was met with harsh grip from the regime during the year. Inspired by the Arab Spring uprising, young Azeris called for demonstrations against President Ilham Aliyev’s regime, leading to the arrest of hundreds of oppositionists before or during demonstrations in March. Some were sentenced to short sentences, others were released after questioning.
In April, unauthorized youth in the capital Baku protested against the regime’s corruption. Many were arrested, among them a mother and her little daughter who called “freedom”. The police also raided the opposition party Musavat’s office and seized documents.
According to Countryaah official site, the protests were followed by prison sentences. An activist who used Facebook to call for demonstrations was sentenced to two years in prison accused of not doing military service. A 20-year-old was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for drug offenses after he called for protests on Facebook. According to Amnesty International, a growing number of journalists and young activists were imprisoned following accusations.
While the campaign against the opposition was ongoing, Azerbaijan won its first victory in the Eurovision Scholars Festival in May. The regime took advantage of the success and declared it a victory for the Azerbaijani state and the people.
During the summer, regime opponent Shahin Hasanli was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of possession of weapons and ammunition. He had been arrested in connection with the spring protests. In August, six opposition activists were sentenced to up to three years in prison for participating in illegal protests. Three well-known activists in Baku were sentenced in October to two and a half years in prison accused of participating in the unauthorized protests in April.
Negotiations during the year with Armenia on Nagorno-Karabakh achieved no results, and at a military parade in June, President Aliyev declared that the war (which was fought in the early 1990s) was not over. Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity must be restored, the president argued. The harsh military life got a tragic expression when a soldier at an army base in western Azerbaijan shot seven of his soldier colleagues at the beginning of the year. All the victims were young recruits.
In October, Azerbaijan got a seat among the temporary members of the UN Security Council for the first time. It is valid for two years.