Like any exacting stage manager, the Azerbaijani government has labored hard to adjust the lights and perk up the props for Baku’s international debut as the host of Eurovision 2012. But the painstaking preparations did not just involve the Azerbaijani capital’s buildings and infrastructure. They also involved the distribution of Eurovision tickets.
For the past month, discussions on Facebook and articles in pro-opposition Azerbaijani media have alleged that the government was forcing public employees in Baku -- working for schools, hospitals, universities, courts and stationed at military bases -- to buy Eurovision tickets.
A Eurovision spokesperson denied the reports, but an informed Azerbaijani law enforcement agency source told EurasiaNet.org that fear of possible “security issues” during Eurovision’s May 22-May 26 run prompted the government to scoop up tickets ahead of time and distribute them to “reliable” individuals, meaning state employees.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku.