This is also the very leadership of a country that makes heroes out of axe-murderers such as Ramil Safarov, who was recently pardoned despite having killed his fellow Armenian attendee with an axe in a NATO-sponsored study program in Hungary. This is also the same regime that embarked on a Taliban-style cultural genocide in 2005 against thousands of medieval Armenian religious monuments in Jugha, Nackichevan, which has been well-documented by video footage, photographs and advanced satellite imaging. International diplomats have been repeatedly banned by Azerbaijani authorities from visiting the region, including past and present U.S. Ambassadors to Azerbaijan, Matthew Bryza and Richard Morningstar.

While the petro-dollars of the Aliyev regime fund lobbyists such as Emil Agazade to monitor the global media and attempt to suppress freedom of information, it would be much wiser for Azerbaijan’s leadership to spend the money at home, where over 40 percent of the rural population live below the poverty line.

Semerdjian is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oxford.