Azerbaijan's ambassador to Ukraine and Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Kostyantin Hryshchenko attended the gala opening on April 25 of a park in Kyiv dedicated to the late president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, who died in 2003.
The park features a bronze statue of the late leader, who is the father of current Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. It was funded by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR).
It also has free Wi-Fi.
Azerbaijan's ambassador in Kyiv, Einulla Madatli, described the park as Azerbaijan's gift to the Ukrainian people.
It is just the latest move in Azerbaijan's apparent campaign to export the cult of personality
of its former leader. From Belgrade
to Tashkent to Mexico City
, Heydar Aliyev's likeness is seeking out new venues to advance Azerbaijan's interests abroad.
In fact, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service has created an interactive map of Heydar Aliyevs around the world:
View Heydar Aliyev statues around the world in a larger map
But Baku isn't stopping at statues. There have been reports of a film trilogy in the works
on the life of Heydar Aliyev, dozens of seemingly little-frequented museums
dedicated to him, and now even an academic discipline devoted to the study of his life
"Special courses and special lectures could be established in universities to study the Heydar Aliyev phenomenon," says Adalet Qasimov, the head of the Department of AliyevScience in the History Institute of the Academy of Sciences.
"To me, Aliyev always served his nation. Compared to other leaders of Azerbaijan, there is nothing you could criticize him for. During our investigations, we came across nothing of the sort."
PHOTO GALLERY of Heydar Aliyev statues around the world:
-- Dan Wisniewski