Azerbaijan pays ‘extra fee’ to Podesta Group following Aliyev’s Washington trip

Alex Raufoglu
Apr 14, 2016 · 2 min read

This article originally appeared at contact.az

When Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s president, visited Washington later last month, it was an opportunity for Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as others in the US foreign policy establishment, to publicly voice their concerns over crackdown against journalists, especially the attacks on US-funded media group, RFE/RL in Baku. They chose not to do so. Well, at least publicly.

Aliyev government, in its turn, seems intent on ensuring American support in its conflict with the independent voices through investing in lobbying activity; something that they have found reasonable to believe is paying off.

The meeting with Kerry, which reportedly had been requested by the Azeris, had taken “considerable lobbying to engineer,” as I was informed by two different sources knowledgeable about the topic.

Yet it remains unclear how the Azeri officials with their poor human rights international records could convince top diplomats of the free world to remain silent about the brutal anti-US campaign that they launched at home.

Although Aliyev’s Washington trip was related to his participation in the Nuclear Security Summit, it came in the wake of a deal signed between Azerbaijani Embassy and a leading US consultancy Podesta Group early this year.

As it was reported earlier, Podesta, which guarantees Azerbaijani government’s access to some of the most powerful people in Washington, has been receiving approximately $50,000 per month from the Azerbaijani Embassy, for its service.

Following Aliyev’s Washington trip, the Azeri Embassy rushed to sign another contract with the Podesta Group offering extra $70,000 for “additional services,” Justice Department records show.

“The Provider shall perform the Additional Services during the period commencing on April 6, 2016 and continuing through July 5, 2016,” reads the amendment.

Podesta officials had no immediate comment when contacted about this report.

The CEO of the Podesta Group is Tony Podesta, who is currently a bundler for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, and John Podesta, the former counselor to President Barack Obama is the chairman of Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Alex Raufoglu

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Journalist covering Eurasia