As if there aren’t enough major international athletic competitions already on the calendar, the inaugural European Olympic Games are set to take place in 2015, with Azerbaijan’s capital Baku playing the host.
For President Ilham Aliyev’s administration, the games present another great PR opportunity, enabling authorities to showcase Azerbaijan much in the same way that they did during last year’s Eurovision song contest. But officials aren’t the only ones anticipating the event. Local rights activists, their PR skills honed by last May’s Eurovision extravaganza, see the games as a fresh chance to shine light on the darker side of Azerbaijan’s political system.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku.