By Anastasia Lavrina
A unique chance to talk with dozens of international observers using live streaming – that’s exactly what came to my mind first when I was asked to cover the holding of early Parliamentary Elections in Azerbaijan, on February 9, on CBC TV Channel.
On that day, more than 800 international observers monitored the process, visiting polling stations, talking with voters, and noting the turnout.
From early morning until late at night, the CBC TV Channel broadcast live communication of TV presenters with observers, experts and representatives of the Independent Media Center ‘Elections 2020’ (“Seçki-2020”), who spoke in detail about their impressions.
Live broadcasts were conducted from the Hilton Hotel, to where almost the entire studio and crew moved for the whole day. The live broadcast for over 20 hours was conducted using two mobile television stations of the CBC Sports Channel.
Before we had time to shoot, Director General of the CBC Channel Vugar Khalilov, and the stage directors Fuad Agamaliev and Habib Dzhabrailov put us in the chairs for the hosts. The weather was terribly cold, one might say icy, especially in the early morning. Although the hotel was warm, a cold wind blew through the ajar door, which could not be closed due to the existence of all wires, cables, which were everywhere. The full live streaming process was only interrupted for a few minutes to drink coffee, or to intercept a couple of sandwiches.
“30 seconds before the start, we look into the camera, broadcast” – these words sounded in my earphones several times. Set up spotlights, cameras everywhere and wires running through the entire hall. Guests take turns one after another. The main producer of the channel Qiyas Abasov did not stop bringing more and more international observers. Soon, we began to notice how journalists, representatives of other media outlets crowded around our set. Of course, they were attracted by our exclusive experts, from whom they tried to take at least a short comment immediately after us.
At first glance, it may seem that the live broadcast is constant tension and fear not to say anything superfluous. However, as soon as you sit in the place, all the anxiety disappears somewhere.
On that day, I and my colleagues, in particular, Sanan Rzayev, Khayala Mammadova, and Azad Hasanli, had a chance to communicate with dozens of international observers, including English speakers.
It was nice to hear how all of them first noted the development and beauty of Azerbaijan.
Those who are not coming for the first time, spoke about how the country is changing from year to year, and become increasingly attractive to tourists.
Speaking about how parliamentary elections are being held in the country, the guests, first of all, were amazed by the high turnout of voters, taking into account the terrible weather conditions that day.
“We saw how older people go to vote, holding on to trees, on poles, because of the strong wind that just knocks them down,” Ivan Kolpakov, Advisor to the Chairman of the Committee on External Relations of St. Petersburg.
Almost every observer noted that the country was able to prepare for the elections in just 2 months. And this deserves special respect.
“Surely there were problems because there was very little time for preparation, but Azerbaijan did a good job,” MP Irek Khaidarovich, State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
The guests also noted the important role of the Central Election Commission and open access to all documentation and statistics to foreign observers:
“We are given access to all the necessary information, which is very important in the process of holding an open election” – British journalist, Editor-in-Chief of The London Post Shahid Qureshi.
For me, as a presenter, and as a political observer, it is always interesting to know the opinion of foreign guests on how Azerbaijan can further strengthen relations with countries, both regional and European, or with the countries of Central Asia. It was interesting to hear how guests emphasize the success of our country in regional development and note the importance of strengthening the partnership between the regions, including in the agricultural sector.
“Azerbaijan plays a significant role in ensuring stability in the region,” Otari Danelia, a Deputy of the Georgian Parliament.
“Commercial, interstate and inter-parliamentary relations between Azerbaijan and Moldova are very well developed and have the potential for further expansion” – MP of the Republic of Moldova, Vladimir Vitiuc.
In addition, the importance of integrating young people into many projects was repeatedly emphasized. In general, this time, all experts and observers praised the high percentage of young candidates who decided to participate in the elections. This is direct evidence of how young people believe in their strength in Azerbaijan.
All day was very interesting but just mad. It was reassuring that the General Director of the CBC TV Channel Vugar Khalilov himself came earlier than everyone in the morning and left later than all at night, monitoring the entire broadcast process and at the same time, the work of the Independent Media Center “Elections 2020”, which he supervised since its inception.
Concluding the live broadcast, the entire group of the channel was very tired but at the same time very pleased with the work done. Not everyone had the opportunity to chat live with so many international experts and politicians.