Photographer's Note

During Soviet time, excessive quantities of portraits, busts, poems, and books about heads (First Secretaries of the Communist Party) of national republics were quite traditional. With the coming of independence of Azerbaijan, when the word "President" was added to the name of Heydar Aliyev, the long-standing ruler of his republic, this tradition obtained new features. Museums and "Heydar Aliyev's corners" exist today in all regional and city police stations, fire stations, schools, institutes, universities, ministries and other establishments. Schools, parks, streets, a mountain, and even a star (!) are named after him. The quantity of books written about Aliyev has surpassed 100, poems about him are included in textbooks of the Azerbaijani schools, two newly introduced official national holidays are connected with returning of Aliyev to rule Azerbaijan and with the day of its inauguration as the president of the country. Heydar Baba ("Grandfather Heydar", as he is called in Azerbaijan) glances up from the pages of textbooks and down from the classroom walls, watching a room full of eight-year-olds reciting poems about him. From a very early age children in Azerbaijan learn about how Heydar Aliyev brought stability to Azerbaijan and got the West to invest in the country's oil riches. Add to this an immense quantity of posters, calendars and huge stands with portraits of the leader, I have counted 10 of the latter on the way from Baku airport to the city center alone! On many giant billboards across the country, his son, Ilham Aliyev, who became president after Heydar died in 2003, now stands next to his father. Remarkably, several months ago, President Ilham Aliyev became the first Azerbaijani to receive the country's highest medal - that of his father...

Here, the Grandfather of the Nation is greeting the newly built shiny headquarters of the National Bank of Azerbaijan. The setting sun behind me is responsible for these golden reflections in the glass facade of the building.

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Additional Photos by Alexander Pasternak (pasternak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1341 W: 179 N: 3373] (15185)
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