It’s a bright spring morning in Baku, and, at Azerbaijan’s only non-profit school for snipers, 10 students are diligently taking notes about the “peculiarities” of a Russian-made, semi-automatic Dragunov sniper rifle and those of a Israeli-made Tavor TAR-21 assault rifle.
Such sniper lessons could soon be the wave of the future for many young Azerbaijanis, if some government officials have their way. In April, President Ilham Aliyev stressed that a four-year state youth program should place particular emphasis on military training.
The Baku-based club, VMPTSTS, or the Military Patriotic Sports-Technical Society, has already endorsed Aliyev’s call with a 45-day-long course that teaches Azerbaijanis over the age of 15 essential combat techniques, including how to be snipers. It is the only organization outside of the military that provides such training.
To read the full story
Shahin Abbasov is a freelance journalist based in Baku and a board member of the Open Society Assistance Foundation-Azerbaijan. Sitara Ibrahimova is a freelance photojournalist based in Baku.