Kseniya Sobchak, a well-known Russian political activist and social butterfly, is an outspoken critic of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. But, curiously, she seems to be taking a much softer line on Azerbaijan’s authoritarian-minded ruler, Ilham Aliyev.
After visiting Baku last April, Sobchak marveled at the transformation of the Azerbaijani capital, comparing it favorably to Moscow. To her credit, she did mention the non-democratic nature of the Azerbaijani regime in comments that were published in Snob, a leading Russian cultural magazine. Yet overall, after reading her take on Baku, one is left with an impression of a country ruled by a benevolent "Oriental ruler" who, although occasionally harsh, cares about the well-being of his subjects. Her somewhat glowing review of Aliyev’s leadership is especially ironic when set against her views on Putin.
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Eldar Mamedov is a political adviser to the Socialists & Democrats Group in the European Parliament, who writes in his personal capacity.