Monday, April 15, 2013

Depardieu & Azeri Gastrodiplomacy

Many of my American friends couldn't understand the warm welcome Gérard Depardieu received in Russia and other former Soviet countries after he made the headlines earlier this year. But yes, the French actor is well-known and much-loved in the CIS region particularly thanks to many of his co-appearances with Pierre Richard, in what must have been more acceptable "Western" cinema in USSR.

And now, he's back to reclaim his fame, and help many of those countries (along with their far-from-democratic leaders) "put themselves on the map". For the details, I'd highly suggest reading a piece by EurasiaNet from earlier this year. But here, I wanted to point out a tourism ad for Azerbaijan that was just released on YouTube yesterday.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Free Thought University (AFU) in Azerbaijan shut down [UPDATED]

There was a lot of outrage on my Facebook feed today. Free Thought University (Azad Fikir Universiteti [AFU] ) in Baku, Azerbaijan was shut down by the authorities. Here is the initial update from the University's page on FB:
Dear friends! Today in the morning, the representatives of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office arrived at the Free Thought University without any prior information, sealed the door and closed the office. We are trying to find out reasons at the moment. Because the office of AFU is shut down by the authorities, we are unable to continue our weekly lectures and other events. Therefore we have to postpone events at AFU for unknown period. The lecture about translation problems in Azerbaijani literature scheduled for tomorrow – 11 April has been postponed as well. We will update you on all new information. Please follow us for more news.
A long-time enthusiast and advocate of freedom and peace in the region, Onnik Krikorian, wrote that "[...] Azad Fikir was really quite exemplary in the South Caucasus and was something that Armenia and Georgia could do with, let alone Azerbaijan."

Image from KP on Facebook