Who is Bolat Bersebayev of Kazakhstan and why is he “monitoring” our polling places in Indianapolis, Indiana and Lansing Michigan? And who is Elchin Musaeyev of Azerbaijan, and why has he been tasked with monitoring the November 6 elections in Boston, Massachusetts, and Concord, New Hampshire?
Neither Kazakhstan nor Azerbaijan are notable as paragons of electoral virtue. Nor are they models of liberty, honesty, and decency. The facts show quite the opposite.
Kazakhstan is a brutal and corrupt dictatorship run by 72-year-old Nursultan Nazarbayev, a lifelong Communist who claims to have received 95.54 percent of the vote in the 2011 elections. No one believes the Kazakh election was anything other than a scripted event with a pre-set outcome. Put “Kazakhstan human rights” into your search engine and you’ll find abundant data from numerous sources confirming that efforts to exercise freedom of expression or freedom of assembly are met with baseball bats, bullets, and prison.
Azerbaijan may even be worse than Kazakhstan. In 2009, “President” Ilham Aliyev pushed through a constitutional amendment that now makes it possible for him to be president for life.
Few expect that he will ever leave office voluntarily. His father, Heydar Alieyev, who was a KGB thug under Joseph Stalin, rose to head the Azerbaijanian KGB, which he used ruthlessly to eliminate competitors and propel himself to rulership of what was then Soviet Azerbaijan. The elder Alieyev was appointed by Leonid Brezhnev to the top leadership of the Communist Party Central Committee and Yuri Andropov rewarded him with membership in the Soviet Politburo. After Azerbaijan’s supposed “independence” from the Soviet Union, Heydar Aliyev continued the Soviet-style rule to which he was accustomed. The dynastic succession from Heydar to his son Ilham was guaranteed by the KGB structures the elder Aliyev had put in place.
Information documenting the sorry state of human rights in Azerbaijan is plentiful and easily available from many government and non-governmental sources. In 2010, a U.S. Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks revealed that despite public cordiality between Washington, D.C. and Baku, the senior U.S. diplomat in Azerbaijan, Donald Lu, considered Ilham Aliyev to be a violent gangster, likening him to a composite of Michael and Sonny Corleone of the Godfather movies.
Lu noted that Aliyev is “increasingly authoritarian and hostile to diversity of political views” despite cultivating an image of moderation. “The dissonance between Aliyev's sensible approach to foreign affairs, manifested by the cosmopolitan image he presents to Western visitors, with his tailored suits and flawless English, and the unpleasant reality of his approach to domestic issues raises the obvious question of how these two realities coexist,” Lu wrote in his diplomatic cable.
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