Azerbaijan tells Baron Cohen there’s only one dictator in town

Azerbaijani fans of Sacha Baron Cohen are out of luck if they are interested in seeing his latest movie, The Dictator. In the film Baron Cohen plays corrupt dictator Admiral General Aladeen, a character inspired by the late eccentric Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The only cinema playing the film in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, cancelled screenings of the film Wednesday for “technical reasons”.

Azerbaijan’s own corrupt president, Ilham Aliyev, seems to share some of Admiral Aladeen’s hunger for crushing democracy. Security forces have cracked down on protests in the lead up to tomorrow night’s Eurovision song contest, which is taking place in Baku this year.

The dictator’s family (Aliyev’s, not Aladeen’s) are noted for their lavish tastes: two years ago, £30m worth of luxury property in Dubai was bought in the name of Heydar Aliyev, the president’s then 11-year old son. Meanwhile, daughter Leyla Aliyeva runs her own glossy lifestyle magazine, Baku, published by Condé Nast. The country has spent 100s of millions of dollars on hosting Eurovision.

Read more about Azerbaijan’s less than dazzling human rights record here.