The glitz and glamour of a major sports event are all very well, but not when they are used as an attempt to launder a tarnished image to the world. Amnesty is calling for all Azerbaijan's prisoners of conscience to be released immediately and unconditionally.
On the 26th of February, spare a thought for them as they still campaign for the truth and the restoration of the dignity of their loved ones. That is the least that they deserve and which Azerbaijan asks for.
The past year has been a difficult year for the whole region. Cold War rhetoric returned to the former Soviet Union and was met with rejection and, at times, with fear. Azerbaijan was not different...
The reluctance of foreign leaders to compromise their energy interests by speaking out on the crackdown in Azerbaijan provides the armour Baku needs to protect itself from criticism over how it treats its citizens.
In places like the Vladikavkaz market, informal communities who have no idea what NGOs are may prove themselves much stronger and more dynamic in the defence of their interests than the marginalised NGOs themselves, which Russia attacks in a Cervantian manner reminiscent of tilting at windmills.
The time really is now for the United Kingdom to take a lead in brokering some form of agreement based on United Nations resolutions. Leaving President Putin to play the diplomat and honest broker between both parties simply means that Russia's influence on the region is maintained and surrounding satellite nations remain subservient to its geo-strategic and geo-political wishes.
The country's role in the international arena is now extending far beyond sporting and musical events. Most prominently, Azerbaijan currently chairs the Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights organisation. In the words of President Aliyev, Azerbaijan is a young democracy but one that is on the way to "creating a better world for everyone to live in dignity and peace".
Eurovision officially kicks off on Tuesday 6 May at 8pm UK time from Copenhagen with the first semi-final. To help you through the semis and Saturday's Grand Final, I've picked my ones to watch below...
Have you heard of Azerbaijan I asked the interfaith activist? No, was the response back and is that not a place in the East? Another activist blurted out reflexively saying, "isn't it some Russian state?"
Azerbaijan is not alone. In fact it's little wonder that a country like Qatar is also putting more and more focus in this area. For a place, which has an abundance of sand, sun and oil, but not much else, it makes sense to be making such an effort to build up its cultural sector