The trial of conservative Sh’ia religious activists involved in what is known as the 'Nardaran Affair' has reached its long-expected conclusion, with all 17 defendants sentenced to up to 20-year prison terms.
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev observes a presentation by Delta Telecom in 2010. Delta, the de facto state monopoly internet service provider, has been linked to a series of attacks on opposition media. (photo: Delta Telecom)
The Azerbaijani government appears to have taken yet another step to quash online opposition media in the country, who have responded by using a technique borrowed from Chinese dissidents in their escalating cyberwar with the authorities.
The internet freedom organization VirtualRoad reported on April 10 that it had found evidence a “dedicated appliance” aimed at “interfer[ing] actively with web traffic” in the infrastructure of Azerbaijan's de facto internet service provider monopoly. The device is being used to block three major opposition news sites: Meydan TV, Azadliq Qezeti, and Azadliq Radiosu, using a sorting technique called deep packet inspection.
By backing up their site on AWS, Azadliq Qezeti have forced the government’s hand, as Azerbaijan would now have to block all of AWS to block domestic access to Azadliq Qezeti. The potential consequences of this has so far stymied even those behind China’s famed Great Firewall, as it would mean everyone – including major corporations – using Amazon’s popular cloud computing system for apps, databases, management tools, and other services would lose access as well.
First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva at a meeting of Azerbaijan's Security Council at which she was named vice president of the country. (photo: president.az)
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has appointed his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, as the country’s first vice president, a move that had been anticipated since the VP post was created as the result of a constitutional referendum last year.
The move places the first lady first in line of succession, a responsibility that formerly fell to the prime minister. It was condemned and mocked in roughly equal measure; opposition politician Ali Kerimli called it “an official step towards the establishment of a monarchy.” Pro-government voices were relatively muted on the news. “Without doubt, everyone had been expecting Mehriban Aliyeva in particular to be appointed to the position of First Vice-President of Azerbaijan,” Novruz Mammadov, deputy head of the presidential administration, wrote on Facebook.
Aliyeva professed to be humbled by the appointment. “Mr. President, I express my deep gratitude to you for this high confidence in me,” she said at a meeting of the Security Council. “Over the past years, your ideas of statehood, patriotism, your courageous protection of Azerbaijan’s national interests, and your unity with the people of Azerbaijan were an example for me.”