Society 20:39 08/04/2013

Spears: Exhibition “Fly to Baku is PR” of repressive regime in Azerbaijan

A travelling exhibition of Azerbaijani Contemporary art which has made stops in London, Berlin, Moscow and Rome, before ending up in Baku is a simply PR for a cash-rich authoritarian government of Azerbaijan, Josh Spers writes in the British article Spears.

“The whole concept of Fly to Baku makes me uneasy, however: isn’t it simply PR for a cash-rich authoritarian government, using art to distract from a regime of repression?” the author of the article wonders.

According to him, the position of Azerbaijani artists cannot be so different from that of Azerbaijani writers, who are restricted — explicitly or by inference — in what they can write and beaten when they flout the restrictions, according to a report from Human Rights Watch called ‘Beaten, Blacklisted and Behind Bars’.

He brings an extract from the Human Rights Watch: “The government of Azerbaijan is engaged in concerted efforts to limit the space for freedom of expression in the country... Dozens of journalists have been prosecuted and imprisoned or fined. Police and sometimes unidentified assailants are able to physically attack journalists and human rights defenders with impunity.”

In tune with this, the art in Fly to Baku is negligible in its political content, perhaps because of a self-exercised censorship.

As Spero says, perhaps, Fly to Baku’s artists have in their attics radical art which deals with repression and dictatorship and a ruling family which spends the country’s money on vanity projects abroad.

The author quotes the journal Private Eye and says that “During the past year at least 11 MPs, plus several peers, have benefited from the Azeris’ “caviar diplomacy”. This usually involves no-expense-spared junkets to Baku.’

The Eye noted how, “British politicians are unusually favourable to Azerbaijan in the Council of Europe, ‘despite its consistent flouting of decisions by the European Court of Human Rights’.”

“So it’s art and caviar diplomacy for some, and jail for others. Fly to Baku? Easy. Just watch what you say when you’re there,” the article says.

In May 1012 the "European Stability Initiative" published a study entitled "Caviar Diplomacy: How Azerbaijan got the silence of the Council of Europe" which was showed the detailed chronology and mechanisms of bribing the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe by the ruling regime in Azerbaijan.



Source Panorama.am
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