Azerbaijani government government makes an 'ass' of itself
Making and posting a video like this will get you tossed in jail in Azerbaijan.
Jail threat for donkey bloggersTwo thirds of Azerbaijan is rich in oil and natural gas.The region of the Lesser Caucasus accounts for most of the country's gold, silver, iron, copper, titanium, chromium, manganese, cobalt, molybdenum, complex ore and antimony. In September 1994, a 30-year contract was signed between the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and 13 oil companies, among them Amoco, BP, Exxon, LUKoil and Statoil. As Western oil companies are able to tap deepwater oilfields untouched by the Soviet exploitation, Azerbaijan is considered one of the most important spots in the world for oil exploration and development.
Two bloggers from Azerbaijan are facing up to five years in jail after posting a video of a donkey giving a news conference on YouTube. Shortly after the video was released, Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli were held on hooliganism charges following a scuffle in a restaurant. Their lawyer says the arrests were politically motivated.
But authorities insist they are investigating a simple criminal case.
In the video, the donkey extols the benefits of living in Azerbaijan and praises the government for its positive attitude towards donkeys. The video was seen by many as a send-up of government news conferences, which critics say are often little more than propaganda events.
"This incident is definitely politically motivated," said Adnan Hajizade's lawyer Isakhan Ashurov.
"My client did not beat anybody, quite the opposite."
The Azerbaijani government denies that the bloggers' arrest was politically motivated.
The official results of the October 15, 2003, elections gave victory to İlham Aliyev, who earned 76.84% of the votes. However, the domestic opposition refused to accept the results and staged mass protests. The protests were due to alleged corruption and staging of elections. Hundreds of demonstrators were beaten, and later arrested. Aliyev took office on October 31, despite opposition complaints. The U.S. government supported Aliyev's election.
In April 2006, President Aliyev made a state visit to Washington, D.C. It was a remarkably successful trip, at least in terms of image. Speaking at a public forum sponsored by the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, Aliyev discussed oil, economic development, and democracy with an audience of reporters and others.