Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has sharply reprimanded government officials and members of their families for what he called their "obnoxious behavior."
While he didn't mention it by name, Aliyev's remarks were taken as his first public reaction to recent protests in the town of Ismayilli
, northwest of the capital, Baku.
The January unrest was triggered by a car accident involving the son of a cabinet minister.
Talking to journalists on the sidelines of a conference on regional development, Aliyev warned government officials to behave properly or face serious consequences:
"The children of high officials display obnoxious behavior. They are misbehaving and insulting people. Who gave them the right to do so? If I hear one more time about someone's bad behavior, that person will be arrested and his father will be dismissed."
Ismayilli after the January protests
Aliyev also called on central and local government officials to stop holding ostentatious celebrations and weddings and to live more modestly:
"Some of them look down on people and don't listen to them. They insult people. This all must end.... Some officials organize big parties -- flashy wedding parties and birthday celebrations. Is this acceptable for public officials?"
A huge cake baked for Aliyev's 51st birthday in Sumgayit
Using himself as an example, Aliyev pointed to his 50th birthday celebrations in December 2011, which he said he spent in the Agcabadi region with internally displaced people from the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh:
"This is my nature and you should follow my example.... Stop with these expensive weddings, birthday parties, and expensive gifts. Enough is enough. Those who do it know who I am talking about. It is about local and central executive officials."
(Of course, Aliyev, failed to mention the huge birthday cakes that have been baked for him on his birthdays.)
Dozens of protesters were arrested after the January 23 protests in Ismayilli when protesters set fire to cars and a hotel owned by the minister's son.
-- Kenan Aliyev of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service