There are three weeks to go until the Eurovision song contest kicks off in Azerbaijan. But already an air of intrigue is enveloping the event, centering on whether a son-in-law of President Ilham Aliyev will be included in the lineup of performers.
Thirty-two-year-old Azerbaijani pop singer Emin Agalarov, the husband of Leyla Aliyeva, the elder daughter of President Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, announced in late March that he would take part in the Baku-hosted event, appearing as a guest singer during an intermission in the contest. Pro-government Azerbaijani news sources eagerly picked up on the announcement, presenting the appearance as a done deal.
Government critics seized on the news as yet another sign of the blurred distinction between the Aliyev family’s private interests and Azerbaijan’s public sphere. Mehriban Aliyeva, the first lady, serves as chairperson of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012’s Organizing Committee.
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Khadija Ismayilova is a freelance reporter in Baku and hosts a daily program on current affairs broadcast by the Azeri Service of RFE/RL.