‘Fake News’ from Washington Echoes in a Baku Jail Cell…

(This article was originally published by Wilson Quarterly on January 31, 2018) Mehman Aliyev chuckled when he heard it. He was locked in a dingy jail cell in Kurdakhani prison on the outskirts of Baku – a veritible home to many of Azerbaijan’s pro-democracy activists and journalists. He recalls that evening in early September 2017: […]



A journalist in exile…

A story of a Russian journalist who had to flee her country, restart her life and career in the U.S., transplanting her family from everything that was familiar, and picking fruit and working as a cashier to survive. She was hardly alone in her exile…


Flacking for despots: Inside Azerbaijan’s lobbying in the U.S. (Video)

Lobbying is extremely effective on any democratic governance, including in the U.S. politics. Though politicians are prohibited from accepting money directly from foreign governments, it is believed that indirect funding may occur through domestic lobbyists hired by foreign actors. What this means is, regardless of what happens in dictatorships from Central Asia to the Middle […]

A Dissident’s Life…

Story of Ramis Yunus, a family member of Azeri imprisoned rights defenders Arif and Leyla Yunus.  (Audio & Photo Multimedia) Despite living for more than a decade in the United States, a leading Azeri dissident says he feels homesick for his motherland that he is not allowed to return to. The dissident, Ramis Yunus, 56, […]



Azerbaijan Undermines Its International Image: Does it matter for Aliyev Government?

(This article was originally published by Foreign Policy Journal on March 23, 2015) Azerbaijan is making itself a welcome home among neighboring states — from Russia to Iran, to the wider Middle East — that deny basic rights to their citizenry and ignore ways democratic states treat their citizens. Does Ilham Aliyev government care about […]

For Azerbaijan, IREX is SPY-REX
Why authoritarian regimes are scared of American NGOs?

(The edited version of this article was originally published by RFERL/RadioAzadliq on Dec. 17. 2014) The U.S. nonprofit organization IREX (International Research and Exchange Board) has worked in post-Soviet Azerbaijan for 16 years supporting academic exchanges and independent media development. But these days life isn’t easy for international media advocates in Azerbaijan: the country is […]



Tweet or treat?

Authoritarian leaders don’t just hate social media. They also use it as a tool for silencing activists, spreading propaganda   Arzu Geybulla, a journalist and blogger in Turkey, says she wasn’t entirely surprised when she became a subject of an intimidation campaign on social media on an October night. “When you have a voice and […]

How Gezi Protests Changed Turkey?

It was supposed to be a green movement initially. Couple dozens of students just were doing a sit-in in Istanbul’s Gezi Park at Taskim Square. Had they let them be, they would probably get bored and return home in a few days… However, disproportionate use of force and gassing peaceful sit-in activists lead to a […]


Maidan lessons for Caucasus, Central Asia…

Re-posting my March, 2013 interview with Russian-American journalist, analyst David Satter on Maidan lessons for Caucasus, Central Asia. This content was originally published by RFERL/Radio Azadliq. For many western analysts, no matter whether conditions in the Caucasus and Central Asia are similar to those in Ukraine, a repetition of Maidan here remains unclear; the crisis […]



How to Deal With Countries Where Ruling Families Hide Cash Offshore?

Re-posting my July, 2013 piece on post-Soviet oligarchs` offshore secrets: Azerbaijan’s example. This interview was originally published by TURAN News Agency. The rich, famous politicians, from presidents to plutocrats and third world dictators, who have a vast amount of cash hidden in secret offshore accounts in the British Virgin Islands, Switzerland or Singapore, probably haven’t […]


Is Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Near Breaking Point? My interview with top US envoy

As shots across the Line of Contact between Azerbaijan and Armenia have recently become more common, causing reportedly at least 50 lives from both sides in the past few weeks, many that were involved in the peacemaking efforts, worry that a settlement will not be possible amid growing tension and mistrust between the Armenian and […]

Ukraine crisis: What‘s next?

Re-posting my March, 2014 article on Ukrainian crisis. This piece was originally published by REF/RL, Radio Azadlig. The three and half-months-old crisis in Ukraine escalated last weekend with Russia’s invasion of its next-door neighbor, according to the US officials. Fortunately, there has been no violence or bloodshed yet, but there is great uncertainty about whether […]



Roza Otunbayeva to the world dictators: “You cannot stop democracy…”

Re-publishing my interview with Central Asia’s first female president Roza Otunbayeva. This piece was originally published by Contact.az In the heart of Caucasus, Central Asia and Middle East people are watching with solidarity as events unfold in the Arab world. But even before the events in Tunisia set off the “Arab Spring”, there was another […]

Can Turkey and Israel reconcile their differences?

Re-publishing my December, 2011 article on Turkey-Israel relationship. This piece was originally published by SETimes Yildirim Tugrul Turkes wonders what the Middle East would be like today if Israel and Turkey, two longtime allies in the region, hadn’t experienced the tragic May 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla raid. “It’s hard to see how our nations are […]



Quiet Diplomacy: Why the US Fails to Protect Human Rights in South Caucasus?

Re-posting my January, 2014 article published by Meydan TV Earlier this month I had a chance to attend a Congressional hearing where I listened to a few very interesting speeches on the US’ stance to protect human rights in the greater Eurasia region. Washington’s policy of “quiet diplomacy” towards post-soviet authoritarianisms has been severely criticized […]

Towards Oil, a Curse or Blessing?

Re-publishing my interview with former World Bank president Robert Zoellick, in May 2013. This piece was originally published by Contact.az Every nation wants to have oil, but discovering a hole in the ground that spouts tremendous amounts of money can sometimes be the worst thing that can happen to a country. Many studies have found […]