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  • Writer's pictureAndré Delicata

Il-kink and Azerbaijan

The Shift News reported Joseph Muscat extolling the virtues of Azerbaijan and of its dictatorship.

Let’s have a look at Azerbaijan’s record.

The start (?) of the kink’s sordid love affair with Azerbaijan was marked by a furtive visit that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff Keith Schembri, his communications coordinator Kurt Farrugia and then Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi made to the country in December 2014. They met President Ilham Aliyev. No government officials, civil servants or journalists accompanied the delegation. They were not informed, let alone invited.

The relationship between Malta and Azerbaijan was pointed out in a Freedom Files 2017 report.

“Malta is considered by Azerbaijani oligarchs as one of the ‘provinces’ of Azerbaijan”. Freedom Files

The report states. “Malta is one of the key locations where corrupt Azerbaijani officials kept their money in offshore banks, along with Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Dubai, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.”

Pilatus Bank was mainly populated by funds belonging to the Aliyev family. Pilatus bank was eventually shuttered by the European Central Bank. A network of over 50 companies and trusts secretly owned by Azerbaijan’s ruling elite used accounts at Pilatus Bank to move millions around Europe. Azerbaijani elites used the bank, through secretive front companies, to transfer cash into Europe and beyond to buy up property, hotels and businesses.

The Azerbaijani Laundromat is the name journalists gave to two years’ worth of records from four accounts at the Danske Bank branch in Tallinn, Estonia. The records, leaked to the Danish newspaper Berlingske and shared with OCCRP, detail what happened to nearly US$ 3 billion routed through a maze of transactions designed to obscure what was going on.

Virtually the entire media sector is under official control, and state-owned television is the most popular information source. No independent television or radio is transmitted from within the country, and all print newspapers with a critical stance have been shut down. Most independent news sites, such as Azadliq and Meydan TV, targeted by state censorship, are based abroad. Authorities are trying to suppress the last of the still-independent media, as well as journalists who reject self-censorship. The authorities use pro-government media to threaten critics with the publication of personal information.

Freedom House ranks Azerbaijan as “Not Free”. Power in Azerbaijan’s authoritarian regime remains heavily concentrated in the hands of Ilham Aliyev and his extended family. Corruption is rampant, and the formal political opposition has been weakened by years of persecution.

Everything about Azerbaijan and the Aliyevs stinks to high heaven.

Yet Joseph Muscat extolls their virtues.


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