Lobby bees are working hard and always in favor of Azerbaijan

Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the US talks about money and image, but not with politicians. The NYTimes story explains through a series of documents signed by no other but Suleymanov himself hiring a lobby firm in order to manipulate the local public opinion through influencing the policy recommendations of the local think tanks.

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Elin Suleymanov, is Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the US. But he is no ordinary ambassador. According to

this

recent story in the New York Times, Mr. Suleymanov is [has been] also engaged in lobbying activities. The NYTimes story explains through a series of documents signed by no other but Suleymanov himself hiring a lobby firm in order to manipulate the local public opinion through influencing the policy recommendations of the local think tanks. Turns out Azerbaijani Embassy to the US penetrated some of the most important think tanks of the country by utilizing the lobbying services of the DCI Group and the Podesta Group. These lobbying groups were hired with the explicit purpose of expanding the relationships with think tanks in the United States to ensure that Azerbaijan is an important security partner of the US.

Azerbaijani Ambassador to the US Elin Suleymanov was listed as a foreign principal in the Registration Statement of the DCI Group filed with the Department of Justice in October 2012. In 2014, Azerbaijani Embassy switched to working with a new lobbying organization, the Podesta Group, “run by a close ally of Obama administration,” reported the New York Times. Again, the lobbying group was hired directly, and the Ambassador personally signed the engagement agreement. The Podesta Group was paid fifty thousand dollars per month, plus expenses for its services.

The New York Times also noted that Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company (SOCAR) also participated in such instances of influence purchasing. Specifically, the newspaper mentions SOCAR’S donation to the Atlantic Council. In response, the Council organized an event in July pushing forward the idea of Azerbaijan, being NATO valuable ally. The participants at the event, including one State Department official, praised Azerbaijan repeatedly as an important security ally of the United States.

The story, describes only a fraction of the large lobbying efforts launched by the Azerbaijani government to buy US support for its onslaught on the civil society in Azerbaijan. In late July, the Houston Chronicle published a journalist investigation showing how US lawmakers were making expensive trips to Azerbaijan, paid by SOCAR, at times in violation of the ethics rules set for the legislators by the existing laws and regulations.

Another US-based pro- Azerbaijan paper is The Hill. Wikipedia describes the paper as “for and about the Congress” but in reality it is a platform for frequent publications by various lobbyists of the Aliyev regime. One of the frequent contributors of the newspaper, Jason Katz, is usually introduced with a disclaimer at the bottom: “

Katz is the principal of TSG, LLC, a consultancy that advises foreign governments, NGOs and corporations in the realms of strategic communications, politics and policy.”

However, there is never any mentioning of the fact that that article itself is a commercial product of the lobbying efforts of the Azerbaijani government. Katz’s article

“US can learn from Azerbaijan”

presents Azerbaijan as a “strategic ally” of the US. So does the article of a more prominent Hill author, the former CIA director R. James Woolsey titled

“Azerbaijan moves towards democracy”

.

One of the Hill authors went as far as to attack Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). The Hill columnist Norma Zager openly defended the policy of the Azerbaijani government to wine and dine with European statesmen and US state officials in order to gain a pass card for the country’s human rights violation. The article

“Friends with Money…”

writes, “Azerbaijan is chastised for what detractors call, “Caviar Diplomacy” and their wildly popular president, Ilham Aliyev, is called any number of terrible things by US tax payer funded

Radio Free Europe

.” This can hardly be an opinion of an independent journalist?

In another article

“Congress Should Stop Using Taxpayer Money to Fund Radio Free Europe’s Attacks on Our Allies”

at a different US publication, journalist Maayan Jaffe writes: “

Add Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to the list of grievances about Congress’ and the administration’s use of America’s precious tax income. RFE/RL, together with Voice of America, cost American tax payers $750 million annually. Yet instead of the “objective news, analysis and discussion of domestic and regional issues crucial to successful democratic and free-market transformations,” it attacks allied nations that espouse these values.”

And in Baku, the person dubbed as the “grey cardinal” of the dictatorship regime in Azerbaijan – Ramiz Mehdiyev – holds a large conference with the Azerbaijani media owners saying,

“Recently, a well-known American publicist Maayan Jaffe wrote an article stating that the US spends 750 million annually on the Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America. Yet instead of the “objective news, analysis and discussion of domestic and regional issues crucial to successful democratic and free-market transformations,” it attacks allied nations that espouse these values.”


Click here for the link to the full speech of Ramiz Mehdiyev published in the official newspaper “Azerbaijan” (in Azeri).

Form the outside, all of this smells of a coordinated effort where foreign money is buying apologists in the US to attack taxpayer – funded institutions, hoping to influence the taxpayers’ decision.

Unfortunately, the existing regulations for the lobbying organizations allow the dictatorships to make such lobbying efforts. The fact that the Azerbaijani ambassador Elin Suleymanov sees no reason in going behind a middleman and directly hires the lobbyists to manipulate the public opinion in the United States, speaks volumes about how the system works.

 Source:

AzeriReport

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