Democratisation activists in Azerbaijan are increasingly pessimistic about what they describe as the West’s lack of support for reform and the protection of basic rights in the energy-rich South Caucasus country.
Azerbaijan in late April crossed a self-imposed “red line” in its relations with southern neighbour Iran by dispatching Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov on a visit to Israel, Tehran’s arch-foe. Reasons for the timing of the move are not clear, but, so far, Tehran appears to be biding its time with a response.
Sixty-year-old Irina Grigoryan's voice is drowned out by the merry noise of 230 children waiting for their lunch. Director of kindergarten N3, located in Stepanakert, capital of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Region (NKR) deep in the Caucasus, Grigoryan smiles tolerantly at the din.
There's a coffee shop in an out-of-the-way part of Baku where the walls are covered with illustrations from an early 20th century satirical magazine called Molla Nasreddin. The magazine represents a bygone era, when Azerbaijan was a font of new cultural trends in the Muslim world, pioneering such issues as female emancipation, anti-clericalism, anti-colonialism and labour rights.
A Soviet-era 4x4 snores down the muddy road to the front line. It’s another foggy day in the flatlands east of the borders of the tiny and once autonomous region of Nagorno-Karabakh, sandwiched between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
There has been much speculation surrounding Azerbaijan’s relations with Israel, including reports that Israeli warplanes might use Azerbaijani airfields as support bases during a potential attack against Iran. The reality of the bilateral relationship is not so dramatic, as it is pragmatic.
They’ve battled police in the streets and they’ve challenged authority the courts. Now, faced with staggering increases in fines for unauthorised demonstrations, Azerbaijani opposition activists are turning to Facebook to get their messages out.
Khadija Ismayilova has been threatened with blackmail by her own government. She has been branded an "enemy of the state", mainly for her exposés of official corruption.
Azerbaijani officials appear to buy into the idea that taxation policy can be an effective way of managing the environment.
It may look like just a 27-year-old radar station in a remote stretch of northern Azerbaijan. But, in reality, Gabala is all about Baku’s desire to assert its own weight as a regional power – even against its onetime patron, Russia.
As two young Azeri poets enter their 11th week in detention in Iran, efforts to secure their release are not losing steam, nor are political tensions between the two countries.
As the attention of the world faded away from Azerbaijan after the recent Eurovision song contest, police began targeting some young activists and a journalist involved in protests here last month.