Many international and domestic observers worry that the recent convictions of two youth activist-bloggers in Azerbaijan are sounding the death knell for the democratization process in the South Caucasus country.
They have built roads and hospitals; schools and factories. And now, with the recent opening of Yerevan’s $35 million Cafesjian Center for the Arts, members of Armenia’s deep-pocketed Diaspora has moved into modern art.
The government of Kazakhstan has hired a Washington lobbying firm to try to change regulations that require countries to make progress on human rights in order to receive US aid. Kazakhstani officials have indicated that they would prefer to not get the money at all, rather than be subjected to the "insulting" standards.
Students prevented from studying at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and later prohibited from traveling to the American University of Bulgaria, reportedly have been placed on a five-year travel blacklist, an opposition news site is reporting.
Youth activists Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli were convicted on hooliganism and violence charges in a Baku court on November 11. International observers and youth activists immediately expressed outrage at the verdict.
After a two-week delay, the high-profile trial of two Azerbaijani youth activists resumed briefly on October 27 before the judge ordered a 10-day adjournment. Supporters of the jailed duo contend that the repeated and lengthy delays constitute a human rights violation.
After spending nearly two months in pre-trial detention in Azerbaijan, two youth activists, Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade, appeared in a Baku courtroom on September 4. The presiding judge rejected a variety of defense motions, including one to have the charges dropped and another to permit media coverage of the proceedings.
For Georgian officials, the exhibit also offers a way to redirect international attention away from the images of last year's five-day war with Russia. "What this means is that finally we have seen a serious exhibition in Georgia," commented Minister of Culture Nikoloz Rurua at the Picasso show's May 30 opening.
The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that Azerbaijan must pay 25,000 euros ($32,608) to a woman injured by police during the 2003 crackdown on opposition protestors. Still unresolved is whether Azerbaijani leaders will tackle the underlying problems that led to the judgment against them.