Today, there are three parts of the old Soviet bloc—one is democratic, another is wholly authoritarian, and a third “intermediate” group is caught between two worlds. This last should be the main focus of Western assistance.
A few years ago, Europe’s most important intergovernmental human-rights institution, the Council of Europe, crossed over to the dark side. Like Dorian Gray, the dandy in Oscar Wilde’s story of moral decay, it sold its soul. And as with Dorian Gray, who retained his good looks, the inner decay of the Council of Europe remains hidden from view.
The 2005 elections were marked by massive fraud, but the democratic world mostly looked the other way. Azerbaijani society remains receptive to democracy, but the regime clearly has other plans—and will soon have massive oil wealth to fund them.
The November 2000 parliamentary elections, expected to be a step forward for democracy, instead turned into a major setback, casting doubt on the country's future stability.