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Azerbaijan: Even more Eurovision stupidity

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Music lovers the world over might consider it to be some kind of dumb competition where the most mediocre of talent gets its brief moment of fame, but for tin-pot dictators in the South Caucasus, Eurovision is taken very seriously indeed. Forget the spirit in which the competition was meant to be held, for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia it's most definitely not about friendly competition. Instead, it's about nationalism, and sometimes in the ugliest of forms.

The competition had already got off to a bad start in February when Georgia entered an entry mocking the Russian prime minister, former President Putin, but then Armenia and Azerbaijan soon took the level of animosity to even greater heights with actions that bordered on the infantile. This might be reason enough for many to consider Eurovision as more absurd than it already is, but when the two countries remain in a state of war, even a simple and otherwise mundane song contest takes on a frightening new dimension.


Rovshan Nasirli  was called in for questioning.  "They wanted an explanation for why I voted for Armenia. They said it was a matter of national security," Nasirli told Radio Free Europe. "They were trying to put psychological pressure on me, saying things like, 'You have no sense of ethnic pride. How come you voted for Armenia?' They made me write out an explanation, and then they let me go." Ironically, the 22-year-old added that he voted for Armenia because it sounded "more Azeri" than his own country's entry.


With Armenia and Azerbaijan reportedly close to hammering out a framework peace deal agreement to end the long-running conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, such actions by the Azeri authorities are certainly not condusive to restoring trust between the two neighbouring countries.

It also remains unclear why the authorities waited until now to effectively intimidate its own citizens who managed to vote for Armenia despite reports that the number for doing so was not displayed during the local live broadcast.

However, the timing could have something to do with the release of data for televoting at the beginning of the month. Coming third in the competition as a result of votes from a jury, Azerbaijan's entry by Aysel and Arash came second in terms of those cast by the public. Even so, it remains uncertain whether Azerbaijan will be permitted to enter the competition next year as a result of the somewhat draconian action taken against at least one of its own citizens.


In an interview with the APA news agency, Svante Stockselius, Executive Supervisor of Eurovision, says that competion organizers are taking the latest developments surrounding Armenia and Azerbaijan very seriously: "The European Broadcasting Union is aware of the rumours and accusations made in the media and started last week to investigate the matter. The investigation will involve our technical partners and also gives our Member Broadcasters the chance to respond. Until this investigation is completed we cannot comment further on these rumours and accusations." 

Meanwhile, in stark contrast to the mood towards Armenians in Azerbaijan, a festival of Azeri films is set to take place in October in the capital, Yerevan. Following the international outcry surrounding the detention of persecution of video blogger youth activists Adnan Hajizadeh and Emin Milli as well as this week's news of the death in prison of a newspaper editor, it seems as though the authorities in Baku are hell bent on bringing the image of their country down to new and even lower levels.

If that was the intention, they appear to be doing a good job...


Onnik Krikorian | August 19, 2009 4:21 PM | Reply

Novruz Mammadov, Chief of the international affairs department in the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, has responded to the way in which, how to say, the world has been shocked by this development.

However, rather than be repentant or, say, understand that those responsible should be dismissed from their positions, he instead says Armenia will use the news against Azerbaijan.

I do not know who is making investigation. Principally, I concerned myself with it and saw that it is exaggerated. It should be taken into consideration that Azerbaijan is a young state having 18-year independence, the officials do not have so rich experience. That’s why various circles, especially Armenia are interested in exaggerating it. It was not as one described it. I think that some got a chance to carry out campaign against Azerbaijan. No doubt these issues should be considered attentively. link

Yeah, no kidding, they will, but what did you expect when you shoot yourself in the foot. Such statements can only do the country more damage when it should have not allowed such an incident to occur in the first place.

Onnik Krikorian | August 19, 2009 5:07 PM | Reply

Thankfully, and it should be pointed out that RFE/RL's Azeri service broke the news of the interrogations first, there are others in Azerbaijan who are speaking out about this latest development:


The case has also set off alarm bells in Azerbaijan's rights community. Activist Avaz Hasanov called the move "unbelievable" and warned that Azerbaijan, which has already seen a steady clampdown on civil rights under President Ilham Aliyev, is moving toward a police state.

“Limiting people's choices in such an obvious manner won't do any good for the country,” Hasanov told RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani service. “If all SMS and phone conversations are being screened, then this country is nothing more than a police state, with people being watched all the time.” link

Onnik Krikorian | August 20, 2009 4:19 AM | Reply

The European Broadcasting Union, organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest, have informed esctoday.com that an investigation is underway regarding the questioning of Azerbaijan residents that voted for Armenia at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest by the Ministry of the Interior.


Media reports claim that the 43 members of the Azeri public that voted for neighbouring Armenia were traced and taken for questioning about their actions. tensions between the two countries remain high after a war fifteen years ago.

esctoday.com contacted the EBU for comments on the situation and today the EBU have confirmed to esctoday.com that an investigation has been launched into the issue and also whether the voting number for Armenia was blocked for Azeri viewers during the show. [...]

[...] link

Onnik Krikorian | August 20, 2009 11:52 AM | Reply

Given the initial response of the authorities in Baku, it is difficult to not consider the following statement by an Azeri deputy foreign minister to be anything more than damage limitation, but nevertheless, such a response is important.

Xarici İşlər Nazirinin müavini, Diplomatik Akademiyanın rektoru Hafiz Paşayev «Eurovision 2009» mahnı müsabiqəsində Ermənistan təmsilçilərinə səs verənlərin Milli Təhlükəsizlik Nazirliyinə çağırılmasını səhv addım sayır.

«Problem ondan ibarətdir ki, belə bir işlər olanda hamı onu yüksək rəhbərliyə aid edir. Amma mən inanıram və bilirəm də ki bu hansısa aşağı rütbəli bir məmurun işidir. Mən hesab edirəm ki, bu səhv addımdır».

«Eurovision 2009» mahnı müsabiqəsində Ermənistandan olan iştirakçılara səs göndərənlər Milli Təhlükəsizlik Nazirliyinin müvafiq rayon şöbələrinə çağırılıb dindirilirlər. Onlardan Ermənistan iştirakçısına niyə görə səs göndərmələri ilə bağlı izahat istəyirlər.

«Eurovision 2009» mahnı müsabiqəsində iştirak edən erməni müğənnilərə Azərbaycandan 43 nəfər səs göndərib.

Siz necə hesab edirsiniz, «Eurovision» mahnı müsabiqəsində Ermənistan iştirakçılarına səs vermək qəbahətdirmi?

Bu mövzuda AzadliqRadiosuna daxil olan şərhləri oxumaq və forumda işrirak etmək üçün bura daxil olun. link

A brief summary in English from an Azeri Facebook friend:

Hafiz Pashayev, deputy foreign minister stated it was wrong to interrogate people who voted for Armenia at Eurovision. He says this kind of things often attributed to high-level decisions, but he is more than sure this is just low level bureaucracy initiative.

Onnik Krikorian | August 20, 2009 7:50 PM | Reply

[...] tomorrow World Azerbaijanis Congress is going to have a round-table named "The Action of 43 Azerbaijani Citizens Who Voted for Armenian Representative [in Eurovision] in the focus of public discussion". Attendants will be Congress members, famous intellectuals of Azerbaijan, activists from Iranian Azerbaijan, students and media people [with axes]. [...] link

Onnik Krikorian | August 21, 2009 2:13 AM | Reply

Very pleased to see this -- an opinion piece from a newspaper in the US-Armenian Diaspora associated with a historically nationalist party. True, the authorities in Baku might use such things in their favour, but let's face it. They will always find something, including voting for a simple song.

What it does represent, however, is a softening in the traditional attitude towards Azeris in the Diaspoa which I find refreshing. I hope the same attitude will also greet those Armenians which might want to see normalized relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey. Here's hoping...

The fact remains that as the world saw in Iran, “It rains on the just and unjust alike.” And there are good Azerbaijanis that need to be supported in their efforts if Azerbaijan is ever to make headway in its desperately needed civil society reforms.

So if you know a good Azerbaijani activist or student, send them a gift of support and solidarity, as they dwell like Daniel in a geopolitical lion’s den. And if you don’t, find one and forge a new friendship, if for no other reason than to counter the Azerbaijani rhetoric and deflate the sounding war drums.

For, if there’s not a single Azerbaijani we can call “jan, jan,” then we may win Eurovision 2009, but that’s as good as it gets. link

Onnik Krikorian | August 23, 2009 7:26 PM | Reply

Thoughts on the Road, the blog of a media trainer with experience of living and working in Azerbaijan has also commented on the latest scandal to hit Eurovision:

[...] This year, the whole contest has gotten even weirder. First, Georgia's entry into the contest was an open slap at Russia. Now, the Azerbaijan authorities have harassed people who had the audacity to "vote" for the Armenian entry in the contest.

Of course, it was unrealistic to expect that nationalist politics would not invade such a contest. After all, chauvinistic nationalism pervades so much of society in the region. [...] link

There are also round ups of what bloggers are saying on the matter on Global Voices Online:



Onnik Krikorian | August 27, 2009 10:27 AM | Reply

RFE/RL yesterday posted a video report on Rovshan Nasirli, including an interview. Interestingly, it turns out that Nasirli is a refugee from Karabakh.


noname | August 30, 2009 8:23 AM | Reply


Mobile Traitors

In recent days in our press as one of the most formidable challenges discussed the voting of 43 of our people for the Armenians in the Eurovision. In fact, no point in this discussion after 3 months and there would be, if not for the MNS, suddenly questioned these people.

thanks to them, long live our patriots for that in the newspapers and on television they chased these Mankurts, from corner to corner for their dastardly SMS.

Mostly my attention was attracted by the position of an ordinary citizen Aidan Gurbanova, in relation with these 43.«These people should be executed»-she said.

But what ,I liked it. Congratulations to all the journalists who scribbled on this subject a lot of pages in the newspapers and internet resources,your labour wasn't wasted in vain. The common people, as we know never fail in their assessments and decisions.

You know, the 43's, who gave their votes to the Armenians had to be put to death yesterday, August 23, just cause and was 16 th anniversary of the seizure Fizuli and Jabrail districts. No, really ... the execution of 43-villains, with their shameful phone right at the alley martyrs think would be appropriate.

And in fact, they are voting for the Armenians, who have disgraced our homeland, our homeland before the whole world. A little more, we would have lost and honor and dignity, even slightly, and would have escaped from the hands of the last remnants Honour. I spit in your face! Mankurt degenerates!

Although. As it's is the 24 August, is still not too late, hold them alive until 29 October and will betray the penalty on the day of the seizure Zangilan region.

Of course we can show humanism, to keep them alive, ashamed, let them live with this shameful black mark on his forehead, and cell phones. You can also enter the names of these 43-in big letters in a conspicuous place on the wall, and every day nationwide to come back and spit on them. In short, that in our country nobody would ever dare to vote for the Armenians.

In my opinion in this case there is a «great fault» Ismail Omarov, the head of Al. Public television, who during this same competition was unable to properly close the demonstration of SMS number, which could vote for the Armenians. Thus, 43 of our fellow strayed from the righteous path and succumbed to temptation. Ismail Muallim, you do not feel ashamed?

My claim also to the leaders Azerenegro, Bakelektroset who first had to be summoned to the MNS. And ask the full extent. Why, during the performance of the Armenian duo the electricity was not turned off? After doing so, they would have saved our 43-citizens from forced betrayal.

Moreover, we have such experiences,
In national issues, we can not compromise, the investigators correctly concluded ..

«Today you vote for the Armenians, and tomorrow you may blow up the subway»

To be honest, it would be good to collect and liquidate all mobile phones, well ... for safety. For young people today are actively «chatting in Bluetooth, tomorrow they could become maniacs.

A sale of clothing company «Giorgio Armani» in Baku should be stopped immediately, because the label shamelessly resembles the word «Armenians». And lousy Europe go away with their care about the call of people to the MNS. Just think a great thing.

There is an ancient parable. some people decided to root out .. stealing
and they caought the horse (the thief himself managed to escape), which .. and decided to strip all their clothes and put it on the back of the horse,so that the hors's back wouldn't bear the weight and break and .. people would get rid of the theft. So they did,. stripped all their clothes, lay on its back . One young man was very shy, he didn't took off his pants .. leaving it to himself. At this moment the horse started and rode away. taking with them all their clothes of naked people.

The crowd began to beat the young guy, saying, if you took off your pants, the back of the horse would break down.

Zamin Haji.

http://www.musavat.com/site/?name=yazar ... 8894&yid=5

noname | August 30, 2009 8:25 AM | Reply

Do we have to give up Karabakh for the sake of Eurovision?

A member of Milli Mejlis,the head of the Committee on Culture, Nizami Safarov said: "The qualifications of the Ministry of National Security is very high. This structure could not deal with a challenge, and poll voters. This is a trifling talk. The security of any country can call any citizen of any of their interest. And it is not cause all sorts of media to discuss the validity of the security forces "

Currently, Armenia, continued Safarov, being the aggressor, has a policy of conquest against Azerbaijan. Therefore, people who eat azerbaijiani bread and Azeri Azerbaijani citizens and at the same time voting for the Armenians in any competition, on a mandatory basis should be closely monitored and trials with MNS Otherwise, what is MNS ?

"Furthermore, what all this have to do with the organizers of" Eurovision ", who threaten us with sanctions, in our internal affairs" perplexed higher MP , there can not be talks about art, this kind of talks with the Armenians we finished long ago.

The resent intentions of Alla Pugacheva to give a concert in the Nagorno-Karabakh, we said to her - "go to Armenia and then give a concert"

In such a situation, even if the organizers of Eurovision deprive us the right to participate for several years in the competition, we can not set it aside because of the Karabakh .Either we should arrange concerts, or defend our land.

Even if they ban us for 10 years, the state should continue its control over these cases. As for the contests an songs, "concluded Safarov - Azerbaijan in future will have a lot of of time for singing and dancing."


noname | August 30, 2009 8:32 AM | Reply

The Council of the worldwide Azerbaijanians about the voting from Azerbaijan to Armenia

The coordinated council of the worldwide Azerbaijanians set a round table on Friday on the subject:Was it correct for Azerbaijani 43 residents to vote for Armenia on Eurovision 2009?

Those who talked on debates accused the 43 Azerbaijanians who voted
for Armenia for the lack of patriotism and love towards homeland.Moreover
the leader of the Yought Organisation of Worldwide Azerbaijans
Seymour Hasanli called this fact "Armenian provocation & and a number of organisations who get grants "

The leader of press service of this Social organisation Alirza Amanbayli
said:"The voting of this people for Armenians was organised beforehand
and they new that THEY KNEW THAT THEY WOULD BE CALLED to MNS and a scandal would be risen and it would give to some organisations to accuse Azerbaijan of the supressing freedom

http://www.news.bakililar.az/news_sovet ... 24462.html

Onnik Krikorian | August 30, 2009 9:18 AM | Reply

A mistake? No kidding...

Eurovision: Azerbaijan Backs Down

Embarrassed government says Armenia song votes probe was a mistake.

The Azerbaijan security services’ interrogation of people who voted for Armenia in the Eurovision Song Contest was “a mistake by one official”, the government says, while commentators said the probe humiliated the whole country.


“I am sure this mistake was made by just one low-ranking official. And harm was done to the whole country,” said Togrul Juvarli, a political analyst.

“The political weight of this incident has been great. When it is important to show the world that we are a civilised country, we behave like this.”

Nasirli said he was shocked by how little public protest there had been over the affair, and how the government was prepared to dismiss as a “mistake” the summoning of dozens of young people.

[...] link

noname | August 30, 2009 10:44 AM | Reply

Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security has acknoleged the fact of questioning music fans

The Azerbaijan Service of BBC has received a comment from the Ministry of National Security concerning the calls to th office who voted for the Armenian singers at Eurovision 2009.

A member of the MNS Jeyhun Suleimanov confirmed to BBC the call of Rovshan Nasirov and getting explanations from the latter.

In the view of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan is natural, said the officer.


Onnik Krikorian | August 30, 2009 11:39 AM | Reply

Moment of madness: The Eurovision witch-hunt


The 2009 event, held in Moscow in May, seemed a definitive derby win for Azerbaijan. Their entry, Aysel & Arash’s “Always”, finished a creditable third, a long way ahead of Armenia’s Inga & Anush, whose “Jan Jan” came 10th. This was, apparently, not good enough for the Azerbaijani authorities. In recent weeks, several Azerbaijanis have been hauled in by the police, who are clearly in receipt of private telephone records, and invited to explain why they had voted for Armenia. One detainee told Radio Liberty that the cops had accused him of “lacking ethnic pride”. To which there are two retorts. First, that a country possessed of any pride either sits out Eurovision or laughs it off. Second, that a state that harasses its citizens in this manner has little to be proud of. link

What do you think?