Friday, August 28, 2009
The trial of two young internet pro-democracy activists on charges of hooliganism is due to begin in Baku in early September. As reported by Global Voices Online, the two men, Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli, will now also face an additional charge of causing mild injury to an unspecified victim. They were originally detained after being accused of starting a fight in a restaurant, although they claim they were the victims of an unprovoked attack by unknown assailants. Their supporters believe they were targeted because of their campaigning activities, which include the online distribution of satirical videos poking fun at the government. Some suggest that the authorities in Azerbaijan are trying to cast a chill over the blogosphere, after a series of restrictive moves against independent and opposition media in the country. Updates from the campaign to free them are available here.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
"This is Vladimir. He is my first son."
Indira Bartsits proudly gestures towards one of her infant twins, who were born just minutes before the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, unexpectedly visited her room at a maternity hospital in Sukhumi, the Abkhaz capital, during his trip to the disputed region earlier this month.
She said she only decided to name the child after the Russian premier on the spur of the moment, but agreed that she was grateful to Moscow for recognising Abkhazia as an independent state a year ago.
Doctors at the hospital suggested she should name the other twin after Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, but she preferred to call him after her brother-in-law, who was killed during Abkhazia’s battles for independence from Georgia in the early 1990s.
Read more from my recent trip to Abkhazia on the Al Jazeera website here - and more about Georgia seizing ships carrying fuel to Abkhazia (including the latest on the strange dispute about the opening of a Benetton shop in Sukhumi) here.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Azerbaijani rappers Shirband have released a powerful tune in support of two young pro-democracy internet activists who're in jail in Baku awaiting trial on charges of 'hooliganism'. It's a furiously orchestrated piece of protest hip hop, with lyrics which go something like this:
"1937 [the year of Stalin's purges] is still going on, even more strictly, more seriously, now with oil and gas, the youth are being arrested, we always feel these black jeeps following us..."