The ongoing flood of U.S. diplomatic cables released by the online repository of leaked government and corporate documents Wikileaks known as “Cablegate,” has led to the release of a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Baku using a mafia analogy of the Corleones from the popular “Godfather” movie based on the Mario Puzo novel of the same title questioning whether Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev is like Michael or Sonny and rendering father Heydar essentially Vito. The cable makes two passing referencing to Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade, released from prison a little less than two weeks ago after serving several months each on trumped up charges of hooliganism most observers said was little more than a ruse following their satiricial video, dubbed the “donkey video”:
Commenting on the GOAJ’s harsh reaction to the YouTube “donkey video” (Reftel A), –––– quipped to the Charge that what one must understand about Aliyev, “He’s not Michael Corleone, he’s Sonny.”
Milli’s great crime against the state was one of satire. He and his colleagues made a video ridiculing a governmental decision—only rumored in a land absent free media—to purchase a donkey from the German government for forty-two thousand U.S. dollars.
In the video that garnered them the title “donkey bloggers” in the international press, one man disguised as a donkey delivered a press conference. As he takes questions, the donkey reveals biographical details about himself that are strikingly similar to those of sitting President Ilham Aliyev. In much of the Middle East, Azerbaijan evidently included, calling someone a “donkey” is a grave insult; a harsher form, perhaps, of calling someone a bastard.
The great line that likely doomed Milli and his fellow “donkey blogger,” Adnan Hajizade, to prison was this:
“Conditions in Azerbaijan are perfect for a donkey like me.”
The U.S. State Department Cable, signed by Charge d’Affairs Donald Lu, references the imprisonment of Milli and Hajizade directly:
As Aliyev perceives a challenge to his authority or affronts to his family dignity, even minor ones, he and his inner circle are apt to react (or overreact), much to the detriment of the country’s democratic development and movement toward Western alliances. The example of the crude retaliation against the young bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade is the most recent and public example (Reftel A).
“Shown Trial: Emin Milli and the Future of Azerbaijan,” November 27, 2010.