"Guys from Baku" seeking protection
oxu.az web-site has recently reported that Azer Mammadzade, Bahram Bagirzade, Jabir Imanov and Tahir Imanov, appealed to the their editorial office for help, requesting to communicate the complaints about their problems to the country’s president.
‘Parni iz Baku’ (Guys from Baku), a team of the Club of the Cheerful and Sharp-witted'(Rus. KVN), that became famous after winning the Club’s Premier League in 1992, is now functioning as the ‘ Parni iz Baku Planet’ theatre. They perform at concerts, shoot comedies and TV programs.
In their performances, “Parni iz Baku traditionally travestied politicians, police, raised social issues. Their concerts in late 1990s-early 2000s were a real ‘sell-out’. Of course, President Ilham Aliyev attended each and every concerts. After the concerts, he usually talked to the artists behind the scenes and thank them, especially for reflecting the society’s problems.
In the subsequent years and until present, the members of the Club of the Cheerful and Sharp-witted were becoming more and more cautious. That is, the range of issues they made fun of, was slowly narrowing. The team has always openly expressed loyalty to the authorities, in general, and in no way supported any oppositional moods.
Nevertheless, they are now facing problems with the Space TV channel’s management.
‘I was told that it is prohibited to criticize the police.’ I asked: ‘Why? How come that it was possible in the 90s, 2000s and even till February 2015, whereas now it is prohibited?’ The answer was: ‘It’s not allowed and that’s it.’ Then I asked: ‘Has the police administration called you?’
I was told that it hadn’t and that it was their individual decision. Then I asked again: ‘So why have you decided so?’ And the answer again was: ‘It is not allowed and that’s it.’ Then my question was: ‘Can others be travestied?’ And the answer was: ‘They should not be travestied and other can be, at least for the time being,’ – says Tahir Imanov. ‘Two of our recent concerts were not put on air. The last concert was to be shown in spring. The announcement was made a week ahead of the concert. One Sunday, ATV called me and told that they were going to cut off the scene, in which we made fun of the ministers’ childhood, as well as those where we criticized the police, customs, tax administration …’.
LiderTV and ANS – country’s two most popular TV channels – refused to cooperate with ‘Parni iz Baku Planet’.
‘The reason why we have come here today is to communicate our heart-cry, through your web-site, to the country’s leadership, to the honorable President and the First Lady, – said Azer Mammadzade. – Our team comprises about 60 people and all of them have not been paid salaried. ‘
Thus, artists are seeking protection from the country’s leadership, regarding the overall situation as the public officials’ arbitrariness. What strikes them most is not just the pressure they have been facing, but rather a contrast between the recognition they used to previously enjoy, including that of the authorities, and the distressful situation, they have found themselves in today.