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Minister's Son Brings Suit Over Shashlik

A bear skin in Azerbaijan's Gabala district
The son of Azerbaijan's transportation minister is suing two opposition newspapers over allegations that he paid a restaurant $1.2 million to make him a Shish kebab of bear meat.

The newspaper "Azadliq" ran a story in May claiming that Anar Mammadov, the playboy son of Transportation Minister Ziya Mammadov, who is reportedly worth around $1 billion, ordered the employees of a restaurant in the Qabala region to slaughter a bear for his dinner.

The bear was reportedly locked in a cage at the restaurant, where it was kept as entertainment, a trend that has been widely reported by RFE/RL and other news outlets.

"Azadliq" writes that the staff of the restaurant tried to dissuade the allegedly drunken Anar by saying the bear cost 1 million Azeri manat ($1.2 million), to which Anar reportedly countered that he would pay.

In a further twist, the restaurant at issue is purportedly owned by Kemaladdin Heydarov, Azerbaijan's minister of emergency situations. According to "Azadliq," the staff phoned Heydarov with Anar's request, to which Heydarov is said to have replied, "Cut it down and let him eat it."

"Yeni Musafat," the other paper being sued, ran a similar story.

Mammadov says the stories are libelous and is suing the papers for $250,000 each.

-- Ashley Cleek

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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