Meanwhile, in the Caucasus:
Azerbaijan’s troubled efforts to portray itself as a progressive and Western-oriented country took a beating this week with the announcement by a pro-government political party that it will pay $12,700 to anyone who cuts off the ear of a 75-year-old novelist.
The author is Akram Aylisli, and his crime is to have written a novella called “Stone Dreams” that is sympathetic to Armenians and recounts Azeri atrocities in the war between the two countries 20 years ago. Aylisli’s misfortune is to have had his work published, in Russia, at a time when an insecure regime in Azerbaijan is whipping up anti-Armenian fervor.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has already stripped Aylisli of his title of “People’s Writer” and the pension that goes with it. Aylisli’s son was fired from his job and parliament has demanded that Aylisli submit to a DNA test to prove he’s Azerbaijani. Over the weekend, book burnings were staged around the country.
But on Monday the head of the Modern Musavat party, Hafiz Hajiyev, told the Turan Information Agency that the time has come for Aylisli to be punished for portraying Azerbaijanis as savages.
“We have to cut off his ear,” Hajiyev said. “This decision is to be executed by members of the youth branch of the party.”
The irony, perhaps, escapes him.