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Azerbaijan

Oil-rich Azerbaijan has redefined itself over the past two decades from a struggling newly independent state to a major regional energy player. It has also used its resources to rebuild its army, which is seen as a government priority as the country grapples with the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Despite its wealth and increased influence in the wider region, poverty and corruption continue to overshadow the country's development. A government crackdown on human rights advocates and journalists has raised concern that Azerbaijan's embryonic democracy is under threat.

The Aliyev Family

Azerbaijani Insiders Benefited from Currency Collapse

In a surprise move, Azerbaijan’s Central Bank devalued the national currency, the manat, in 2015. But was everybody surprised? Did insiders know about the move ahead of time and did they position their own banks and businesses to profit from the devaluation while the Azerbaijani people suffered?

Building on a Shaky Foundation

It is no secret that the family of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev likes to buy expensive buildings around the world, although it’s rarely clear where the money comes from.

Azerbaijan: Aliyev Family, Friends Cruise Aboard SOCAR Super Yachts

Friends and family of President Ilham Aliyev make free use of two luxury yachts worth US$ 59 million that are owned by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), the organization charged with managing the country’s oil wealth for its citizens.

Azerbaijan: First Family’s Russian Dacha

Seven kilometers west of Moscow along the Rublyevo-Uspenskoye Highway, a three-meter-high green metal fence cuts through the cool pine forest. Behind the fence lies Mayendorf Gardens, a subdivision in the exclusive and secretive Rublevka community that is home to Forbes millionaires, State Duma deputies, and high-ranking public officials.

Aliyevs Own Some of the Best Hotels in Baku

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev has spent billions on capturing the world’s attention to the European Games which end tomorrow in his Caspian seaside capital of Baku. He has spared no expense, including slapping plastic facades on tired buildings, building new roads and booking megastar Lady Gaga for the Opening Ceremonies. The best hotels are booked solid.

The Mansion on the Heath

Ilham Aliyev’s family owns a 10,500-square-foot London mansion worth more than US$ 25 million. The house is on Hampstead Lane, in a leafy corner of North London – a cool oasis from the bustle of the central tourist zone.

Azerbaijani First Family Big on Banking

From a distance, Azerbaijan may look like any other oil-rich country. Its capital Baku shines at night, thanks to the multicolored lights from newly-constructed futuristic buildings that evoke the architectural playgrounds of the United Arab Emirates.

Press freedom in Azerbaijan

Interview with Khadija: 'It's the revolving door of political prison in Azerbaijan'

On her first day of freedom, between CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and the Voice of America, Khadija Ismayilova made time to talk to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. She reflected on the experience of her 537 days in jail, the current situation in Azerbaijan and the Khadija Project, OCCRP’s response to her incarceration.

Journalist Khadija Ismayilova Set Free After Final Appeal Hearing

Journalist Khadija Ismayilova was set free after her final appeal hearing today at the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan two days before her 40th birthday.

The Azerbaijan Crackdown: An Update

Soon, it will have been a year since reporters for OCCRP and other organizations took a long, hard look at what is going on inside Azerbaijan’s prison system.

Khadija: 'I Will Build Homes from the Stones Thrown at Me'

The following text is from Khadija Ismayilova's statement given today to Azerbaijan's Court of Grave Crimes in Baku.

The Speakers' Corner

Free speech is sometimes severely punished in Azerbaijan, a country where scores of journalists and activists are in jail because they dared to voice their discontent with the corruption and the theft of state resources by President Ilham Aliyev's regime.

Forged in fire: the making of an investigative reporter

Khadija Ismayilova knew she didn’t have to go to prison. But in her mind, her only other option was to exile herself from her native Azerbaijan.

The people behind bars in Azerbaijan, and how they got there

The numbers alone are appalling: nearly 100 political prisoners. Dozens of attacks on journalists, stretching back nearly 15 years.

Khadija Ismayilova: Prison is Not the End of Life

A letter was just received from journalist Khadija Ismayilova, confined in Azerbaijan.

Lobbyist’s Call for West to Champion Azerbaijan is Deceitful and Dangerous

When I saw former Rep. Dan Burton’s column about wonderful Azerbaijan in the Washington Times today, I wanted to read it right away to my friend Khadija Ismayilova, a journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Baku. But I couldn’t. That same Azerbaijan government Rep. Burton praises as so tolerant and devoted to democracy imprisoned her two months ago.

The Panama Papers

Azerbaijan First Family’s London Private Enclave

Leyla and Arzu Aliyeva, daughters of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, and their cousins Mirjalal and Mir Jamal Pashayev, own multimillion dollar properties in London.

Aliyevs’ Secret Mining Empire

The First Family of Azerbaijan has taken control of some of the country’s richest gold, copper and silver deposits through a network of offshore companies incorporated in the world’s most secretive jurisdictions, according to leaked Mossack Fonseca records.

How Family that Runs Azerbaijan Built an Empire of Hidden Wealth

Documents peel away three layers of secret ownership in a conglomerate and lead to gold mines and overseas real estate

Aliyevs Seek Five Gold Fields in Kyrgyzstan

The First Family of Azerbaijan has a majority stake in another gold mining consortium, the Seychelles-based Redgold Estates, according to leaked documents

Smoke and Mirrors

US/Azerbaijan: Lobbyists Continue to Flout Travel Rules

In May of 2013, the government of Azerbaijan, via its State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), injected $750,000 into an obscure Texas-based non-profit, the Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan (AFAZ).

How to Build Yourself a Stealth Lobbyist, Azerbaijani style

The rise of Brenda Shaffer as a scholar and oft-quoted expert in the field of energy politics illustrates just how vulnerable the American foreign policy establishment is to manipulation by foreign agents.

How Azerbaijan Manipulates Public Opinion in the US

To see how foreign interests distort reality to steer political debate and influence American foreign policy, look no further than a Dec. 5, 2012, meeting in the US Congress chaired by then-Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana.

Azerbaijan Telecom

The TeliaSonera Scandals: A Swedish Trauma

The Telecom giant admits its practices were unethical and maybe illegal but has taken few steps to fix them.

Khadija Calls Latest TeliaSonera Bribe Story "Dangerous"

The imprisoned investigative journalist says this week's revelations of massive bribes in the Azerbaijani telecoms industry explain why no one would answer her questions--and why she is in jail today.

Offshores Close to President Paid Nothing for State Share of Telecom

Taxpayers in Azerbaijan lost more than US$ 600 million in a deal that made no sense for all involved except for a murky offshore deeply connected to President Ilham Aliyev.