The Internet, streets and schools have all become battlegrounds in the relatively small, but increasingly fierce war waged by many of Azerbaijan's political elite against dissent. Now, a fresh front has been identified -- foreign embassies in Baku.
Pro-government parliamentarian Bakhar Muradova on April 15 called out US Ambassador Matthew Bryza and other foreign diplomats for sitting down to chat with the People’s Chamber, an opposition grouping. “Ambassadors of the US and other countries must consider that their actions may harm ties between Azerbaijan and their countries,” Muradova told an assembly of the likeminded in Azerbaijan's parliament.
Other representatives demanded that the diplomats make public topics that had been discussed at the meeting with the opposition. Parliamentarian Faraj Guliyev proposed to launch an investigation into the actions of these diplomats, and, if needed, declare them personae non gratae.
Local media reported that Ambassador Bryza objected that there is nothing untoward in meetings between embassy officials and opposition parties, and underlined that Washington is not backing revolutions anywhere.
Azerbaijan's next opposition-government showdown is likely to take place on April 17, when opposition groups plan to defy a city government order not to hold a rally in downtown Baku.