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Azerbaijan: Al Jazeera video highlights plight of residents reportedly evicted from their homes to make way for Eurovision infrastructure

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24 May 2012

[video] Baku activists bemoan Eurovision impact

Author: Sohail Rahman, Al Jazeera

The Azerbaijani capital Baku will be hosting the final stage of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday. Authorities in Azerbaijan have made the contest a centrepiece in efforts to make Baku an international cultural capital. Activists say the government has spent a record $100m dollars on one of the world's longest-running and most widely watched musical events. Even so, local residents have reportedly been forced out of their homes to make way for "city beautification", with around 4,000 apartments demolished and up to 50,000 people evicted across the country .

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27 May 2012

Eurovision spotlight promotes, exposes Azerbaijan

Author: Elman Mamedov, AFP

...[U]ntil the first chord was struck, the show risked being overshadowed by accusations that strongman President Ilham Aliyev runs an authoritarian regime that jails opponents, persecutes journalists and cracks down on public dissent...The party mood was soured when police in Baku detained dozens of opposition activists attempting to hold pre-Eurovision protests for democratic freedoms. But activists claimed a moral victory after resentments simmering behind the capital's grand facades attracted unprecedented worldwide media coverage...[Rasul] Jafarov [of campaign group Sing For Democracy]...said that Swedish winner Loreen, who infuriated officials by meeting rights activists before the contest, had demonstrated "how Europe appreciates the principles of human rights".

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