Azerbaijan’s authoritarian president wanted to clean up his record before a planned visit to Washington on March 31st, The Economist writes.
According to the paper, “the amnesty that Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s authoritarian president, declared for the holiday of Novruz on March 17th was a rare piece of good news for Azerbaijan’s civil-society activists. Of the 148 people pardoned, 14 were political prisoners, according to local watchdog groups. Among the close-knit dissidents in Baku, the capital, speculation was rife over the reason for the pardons.”
“Were they a result of international pressure? Perhaps the president wanted to clean up his record before a planned visit to Washington on March 31st? Foreign supporters hope it was their advocacy that did the trick. But local observers chalk it up to the low price of oil, Azerbaijan’s chief export. Mr Aliyev, they think, is running short of the cash he normally uses to buy off foreign critics through “caviar diplomacy”, and needed to find a substitute,” the article reads.