In Azerbaidzhan up to now there continues a total economic slump. Besides oil there stands idle practically the whole sphere of industry. Even the extraction of oil in 1999 in comparison with the previous year also. The Bakinsky oil refineries are working at one third of their capacity - there are not enough raw-materials. Azerbaidzhan today not only is not in a state to export oil, but it can not even provide its own needs in oil products. The ballyhoo around new oil products - this is only "noise", since even the existing oil branches are working with stoppages.
Already since 1993 all over the republic with the exception of Baku, electricity is cut 3 - 4 hours per day. Since the 25th of January this routine has been introduced in the capital. A country rich in resources has been plunged into gloom. The rural economy is in complete disintegration. Many inhabitants of the province are moving either to Baku or over the border. They are abandoning the republic with their families; only the old remain there to live out the rest of their days. Because of destitution 60% of children of school age don't go to school. The sole source of existence is trade. Therefore before an article reaches consumption, it passes through the hands of 7 - 8 middlemen, and prices in Baku are 2 - 3 times dearer than in Moscow or Turkey.
During the last year (1999) Azerbaidzhan has dropped from 62nd to 103rd place in living standards. (Belarus to 70, Russia to 71). But on the other side of the coin is the prosperity of the Azerbaidzhan bureaucrasy and oil kings. For example G. Aliyev the president (ex-secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU and member of the politburo) travels for treatment all the way to Turkey - more exactly he flies in the presidential plane. This says it all.
Article translated from the March 2000 edition of the Russian Marxist Paper Workers' Democracy