By Arzu Geybullayeva and Tony Wesolowsky
BAKU (RFE/RL) — Deeply in debt, a man in Azerbaijan sets himself alight — highlighting the human cost of the collapse of the country’s currency.
Alik Navruzov’s self-immolation in front of his workplace on January 7 was said to be his response to the sudden crash of the manat, which has lost about a third of its value since Azerbaijan’s Central Bank announced in December that it would no longer prop up the currency.
According to colleagues at the school in Neftchala where he worked as a maintenance man, Navruzov complained of having bank loans he could no longer make payments on.
The 63-year-old survived, and is now reportedly in stable condition at a hospital in the city, located in the eponymous oil-producing region some 130 kilometers south of the capital. But there appear to be no signs of relief for Navruzov’s dire financial straits — a situation that is all too familiar to a growing number of people in Azerbaijan.
Less than a year after the Caspian Sea state hosted the first-ever European Games, an event President Ilham Aliyev had hoped would showcase his country’s prosperity, it’s evident that from the government to the people on the street, Azerbaijan is struggling financially.