Bureau Recommends: Azerbaijan president gets a PR boost

The Times hails President Aliyev as a key figure to watch in 2012

The Bureau is intrigued by a brief piece in the new edition of Private Eye claiming PR and lobbying firm Bell Pottinger has a new client: the government of Azerbaijan.

The report follows a series of revelations about the firm’s lobbying practices published by the Bureau and the Independent last year.

Private Eye detects Bell Pottinger’s fingerprints on the appearance of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev at number 53 in the Times’s list of ‘100 people to watch in 2012’.

Click here to read the Bureau’s investigation, Lobbying’s Hidden Influence.

The satirical magazine notes that the Times’s report on Aliyev was an ‘amazing puff’, highlighting the capital city Baku’s shopping opportunities and luxury hotels, and the arrival of an Azerbaijani restaurant in a posh part of London.

The report, which hails Baku as ‘the future Dubai of the Caspian’, does not mention Aliyev’s startling 87% share of the former Soviet nation’s vote or concerns over the country’s human rights record, which were reinforced this week when Human Rights Watch reported that human rights in the country worsened in 2011.

Private Eye says: ‘A recent Independent scoop found that Bell Pottinger specialised in tweaking Wikipedia entries to the advantage of clients. Do the firm’s services also extend to planting blatant plugs in supposedly impartial newspapers?’