In June 2015, Azerbaijan’s capital Baku will host the first ever European Games under the umbrella of the European Olympic Committees.
Controversy already surrounds this new sporting venture, following the revelation earlier this year that Azerbaijan will foot the bill for all 50 national Olympic teams – some 6000 athletes from across Europe – to attend.
The country’s internal political situation gives further cause for concern.
Over the last twelve months, a wave of arrests of key critics, including human rights activists, election monitors, lawyers and investigative journalists, has almost entirely silenced Azerbaijani civil society, leaving activists and journalists in-exile to highlight the regime’s on-going attacks on freedom of expression.
The European Games are part of an expensive PR campaign, long waged by Azerbaijan’s autocratic regime, headed by President Ilham Aliyev.