Azerbaijanis in official circles are fond of starting their answers to virtually any question with the phrase "Since 1993..." It's a result of efforts to erect a personality cult around the late president, Heydar Aliyev, and his successor and son, Ilham Aliyev.
But in one area at least, the mid-90s genuinely launched a new era. After independence and before the Aliyev dynasty, official numbers of livestock (cows, sheep, donkeys, poultry) plummeted. They've since rebounded.
The number of sheep in Azerbaijan has nearly doubled (from 4 million to around 7.3 million), and the same can be said for donkeys (from 25,000 to around 46,000), RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service noted recently.
The story elicited some chuckles from Radio Azadliq
Economics student "Kend usagi" ("Villager") thinks the figures suggest that "thanks to our government policy, we have a new area of industry: donkey making."
Abbas from Baku says, "It's very well that we have one sheep for every person."
Mais from Yevlax says it reminds him of Soviet-era reports on the purported successes of collective farms: "Thanks to [this or that leader's] fatherly care, we got two calves from one [cow] instead of the one that was planned!"
-- Ilkin Mammadov