Who we are

Mark Elliott

A teacher turned travel-writer, Mark’s first visits to the Caspian region were a 1984 sojourn to Iran’s rainy north coast then a 1994 odyssey via Kazakhstan and Caspian Russia on his ‘way home’ from a three year stay in Japan. In 1995 he became entranced with the Caucasus while researching what would become the ‘cult backpacker bible,’ Asia Overland. He has since returned two dozen times, penned several guidebooks to Azerbaijan and Georgia, written for Azerbaijani websites and magazines and presented several documentaries about the region.

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Mark Elliott


Words of Wisdom - Armenian Academic and Former Minister Gerard Libaridian Shares His Views on Peace in Karabakh

The Armenians of Karabakh can still sign up to a “manageable” agreement on integrating into Azerbaijan, argues Gerard Libaridian, but they need to stop a sense of self-denial in failing to recognise that they won’t get everything they want.

22 September 2023

Caucasus, Opinion

Caspian Region Gets New UNESCO Listings

On September 18, Unesco unveiled 27 new World Heritage features including three in the Caspian Region countries, plus the extension of another in Azerbaijan.

Lachin Revives its Artistic Side

This weekend, artists and musicians brought a real buzz to Lachin City, culminating in a gala concert that appeared to delight Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev and his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, for whom it doubled as a kind of birthday treat.

31 August 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Humanitarian Aid as Propaganda: the Karabakh Convoy and a Contrasting Ukrainian Example from 2014

In 2014, when Russia proposed sending convoys of ‘humanitarian aid’ to prop up its de-facto puppet states in Eastern Ukraine, the West reacted angrily. However, this month the EU and UN backed Armenia’s attempts to send a convoy to Karabakh. Hypocrisy?

Thomas Goltz 1954-2023

War journalist, educator, and all-round maverick Thomas Goltz died on July 29. He rose to prominence in Eurasia with his unique first-hand reports from conflicts in Georgia, Chechnya, and especially Karabakh, where he was one of the first to report the Khojali massacre.

31 July 2023

Caucasus, Stories

Shusha Global Media Forum

Is the world heading for a ‘post-truth’ world as AI starts to affect journalism? This was just one of several important questions debated by a high-powered conference of international media figures over three days in Azerbaijan’s cultural capital, Shusha. Mark Elliott attended for the Caspian Post.

28 July 2023

Caucasus, Culture

President Aliyev Unplugged: A Personal Reflection

At last weekend’s Shusha Global Media Forum, Caspian Post correspondent Mark Elliott had a rare opportunity to join a lengthy in-person Q&A with Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev. Here he shares his impressions of the event.

26 July 2023

Caucasus, Opinion

Azerbaijan’s “National Press Day”

Azerbaijan celebrated its National Press Day on July 22, a day that is tied to the publication of an Azerbaijani language newspaper 148 years ago.

Round Six in Brussels: Modest Progress on Karabakh… then Russia Throws a Curved Ball

While Aliyev and Pashinyan’s latest Brussels meeting marked a fairly unremarkable continuation of their slow, steady progress towards an eventual peace treaty, Moscow’s reaction was an unexpected change of posture regarding their on-the-ground peacekeepers.

Macron Takes Some Verbal Stick at Baku’s NAM Summit

This week Azerbaijan hosted the latest summit meeting of the Non Aligned Movement. President Ilham Aliyev, the organsation’s current chairman welcomed numerous heads of state to Baku but the press focused particularly on his criticisms of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Another Major Meeting Between Azerbaijani and Armenian Teams Keeps the Peace Process Moving Forward

Three days of high level talks aimed at finding a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan concluded as planned on Thursday despite more deaths on the ground in Karabakh at the start of the week.

Lachin Return Starts

On 28 May, the first group of IDPs returned to Lachin, over 30 years since they were forced to leave.

Hadis to Take to the Screen at Annecy

An Azerbaijani production, Hadis, was chosen from over 3200 others to be shown at the Annecy Festival. The animation is a homage to Hadis Najafi, who was shot dead during the 2022 protests in Iran.

Heydar Aliyev – Centenary of Azerbaijan’s ‘National Leader’

Today marks 100 years since the birth of Heydar Aliyev, who is referred to as Azerbaijan’s 'national leader.'

Habil Mammadov’s Agdam Dreams

Music teacher, Habil Mammadov, hopes to organize a concert where his students can perform in his newly liberated hometown of Aghdam, where he was forced to flee from occupation.

28 April 2023

Caucasus, Stories

Good News on Malaria in the Caspian Region

Good news about malaria in the Caspian Region: there isn’t any!

21 April 2023


Policy Reverse Offers Hope of Protection to North Ossetia’s Beautiful Digorsky Gorge

One of North Ossetia’s potentially attractive tourist destinations, the Digorsky Gorge, is to be ‘saved’ from mineral extraction and offered stronger protection according to the republic’s political chief.

Xinaliq - the Highest Village in the Caucasus?

Xinaliq, one of Caucasus's highest settlements, is a magical place with its own language and timeless traditions.

7 April 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Richard Sorge – Azerbaijan’s James Bond

Learn more about Richard Sorge, widely celebrated as "the spy to end all spies." Born in Azerbaijan to Russian and German parents, he went on to influence the course of WW2.

27 March 2023

Caucasus, Stories

A New Invitation Offers Another Step Toward a Karabakh Peace?

A triple tweet from Azerbaijan opens up the possibility of a new, higher-level round of talks between Baku and the Karabakh Armenian community. Will it lead anywhere?

Shootout at Karabakh - Five Dead, What Are the Implications?

Shootout at Karabakh - Five Dead, What Are the Implications?

7 March 2023


The Intriguing Postage Stamps of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic

For an unusual side glimpse at the short-lived Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920), take a look at the state’s small and appealingly basic series of postage stamps.

3 March 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Ani: an Ancient Ghost City with 21st-Century Implications

Ani: an Ancient Ghost City with 21st-Century Implications

1 March 2023

Caucasus, Opinion

Molla Nasreddin - the Man and the Magazine

Molla Nasreddin magazine highlighted the hypocrisy of the Muslim clergy, the inequality of women, the imposed backwardness of the poor due to inadequate education and the unreasonable disdain of the Russified intelligentsia towards all things Azerbaijani.

10 February 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Earthquake Assistance and the Armenia-Turkiye Relationship

It’s an understatement to call Armenia-Turkiye relations ‘frosty.’ However, with the dispatch of Armenian aid workers, there are encouraging signs of a reopening of dialogue.

9 February 2023

Caucasus, Opinion

Omid the Lonely Love Bird

After losing his partner, Arzu, in 2008, Omid has flown the 5000km migration alone. Read the background story on the last Siberian crane to fly the Western Route.

The Karabakh Nightingales

Nightingales are not just birds in Azerbaijan. They’re also celebrated singers - a member of the Karabakh Nightingale Ensemble producing one of the most celebrated recordings of 20th century Mugham music.

23 January 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Legendary Georgian Vakhtang ‘Buba’ Kikabidze Dies at 84

Legendary Georgian singer and film actor, Vakhtang Kikabidze, has died at the age of 84. He was famed for his Soviet-era performances but also for his vocal political support of Georgia and against Moscow’s post-2008 aggression.

18 January 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Why Christmas Comes Later in Orthodox Countries

Today is Christmas Day for Georgians, Ukrainians, Russians and some other Eastern Orthodox Christians. But why do they celebrate on January 7? Well, it all has to do with ignoring a 16th-century pope.

7 January 2023

Caucasus, Culture

Changing Times in Nakhchivan

December 31 is the World Solidarity Day of Azerbaijanis, a day commemorating the tearing down of border fences between Nakhchivan and Iran in 1989. What’s happened to Nakhchivan since then, and why has its leader recently resigned?

31 December 2022

Caucasus, Opinion

The Mysterious Leopards of the Caspian Region

You might not associate leopards with the Caspian countries, but in fact there are two distinct sub-species in the region. Both are very rare, but naturalists and photographers have been gathering ever more evidence of their survival.

Iran’s Continuing Crack Downs and Their International Effects

Italy is the latest to criticise Iran’s crackdown on protesters. But although Iran might be using softer language recently, it seems that Tehran still sees its heavy-handed policy as successful. Are there any winners in this situation?

Ganja’s Burgeoning Café Scene

Mark Elliott explored the cafe culture of Ganja during his visit to Azerbaijan last month. Turns out it's much more than tea.

23 December 2022

Caucasus, Culture

Birding Hotspot Besh Barmaq

One of Eurasia's great flyways funnels migratory birds between the Azerbaijani shore of the Caspian Sea and the steep crag of Besh Barmag. This year an international team of ornithologists spent three months counting them.

15 December 2022

Caucasus, Stories

Tashkent Fair Showcases Uzbekistan’s Broadening Approach to Tourism

The Tashkent International Tourism Fair is the biggest showcase for new ideas in tourism in the Central Asia region. Uzbekistan's Samarkand is set to be the World Tourism Capital in 2023.

6 December 2022

Central Asia, Culture

Thousands of Caspian Seals Found Dead on Russian Beaches

This past weekend thousands of Caspian Seals were found dead on the beaches of Dagestan in Russia. Learn a bit more about the endangered species and what might have happened here.

5 December 2022

Caucasus, Stories

Driving to Shusha – a Personal Experience

November 8 is "Victory Day" in Azerbaijan, commemorating the day Azerbaijani forces retook the city of Shusha during the 2nd Karabakh War. In this article, Mark Elliott takes us with him to see what's along the road to Shusha.

22 November 2022

Caucasus, Opinion

Tourism in the Caspian Region: What We Learned from WTM 2022

London’s World Travel Market is a window into the heart of the global tourism industry. This year, the Caspian Region was better represented than ever before.

11 November 2022

Central Asia, Culture

Roads and Corridors Between Azerbaijan and Armenia

If both sides step back from semantic arguments, a solution for opening Armenia-Azerbaijan borders could be within reach.

18 October 2022

Caucasus, Opinion

Cyber Warfare – Iran, Demonstrations, Exploding Steel Plants and the Albanian Connection

Hackers again hit Iranian state TV this weekend, posting an image of the Supreme Leader in rifle crosshairs. Who is behind the hacks and what is the Albanian connection in this latest round of an undeclared cyber-war?

Diplomatic Manoeuvres over the Caucasus

September’s re-ignition of conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has set forth a flurry of international diplomacy. What’s going on and why?

Leila’s Violin

A young musician arrives in an Azerbaijani mountain village in a prize-winning short film called "Leila's Violin," written with a dreamlike magic and stylistic elements reminiscent of the great director Sergei Parajanov.

28 September 2022

Caucasus, Culture

The Nobel Brothers and Azerbaijani Oil - A Pre-Soviet Tale

The Nobel Prize is just one of many legacies of a Swedish family whose investments and remarkable new innovations helped transform Azerbaijan’s oil production from the 1870s, helping Baku to be one of the world’s main petro-cities by 1905.

12 September 2022

Caucasus, Stories

Questions Raised by the Vostok-2022 Military Exercises in Far Eastern Russia

Vostok 2022, a week of military exercises in far eastern Russia, apparently saw 50,000 men from 14 countries on manoeuvres. Were there really contingents from both Yerevan and Baku?

Davit Gareja - Keshikchidag, the Border-Straddling Monastic Marvel

A group of ancient Christian hemit caves known as Davit Gareja in Georgia and Keshikchidag in Azerbaijan straddles the border on a semi-desert scarp. Could the site’s management offer an opportunity for cultural cooperation?

10 August 2022

Caucasus, Culture

Ninjutsu In Iran – Developing Respect and Humility, not Budding Assassins

No, they aren’t assassins, despite what the world was once told by a careless headline writer. A full decade later the non-story of Iran’s lady ninjas continues to reverberate.

3 August 2022

Iran, Stories

Azerbaijan’s First Set of Returnees Head for the Completely Reconceived “Smart Village” of Aghali

‘Welcome home’ to ten Azerbaijani families who on July 19 became the first returnees to move into the high-tech “smart village” of Aghali in the de-occupied Zangilan Region of Karabakh.

The Historical Background of Crimea’s Tatars

Crimean Tatars (2)

20 June 2022

Regions, Stories

Georgia’s “Stairway to Heaven,” the Katskhi Pillar

Simon Stylites was a 5th century Christian mystic, later celebrated by Tennyson for having spent decades meditating on the top of a pillar. In Katskhi, Georgia, you’ll find a chapel in the sky, refashioned for latter-day Stylites.

8 June 2022


Who Are the Tatars of Crimea?

Russia's war in Ukraine is just the latest conflict to afflict one of Europe's least know ethnic groups - the Crimean Tatars.

30 May 2022

Regions, Stories

Azerbaijan’s Karabakh Horses Wow the Windsor Horse Show Again

What’s a modern-day gift fit for a king – or queen? Azerbaijan thinks it knows the answer, at least when it comes to Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.

Stihia – Uzbekistan’s Middle-of-Nowhere Festival of Electronica

Last weekend experimental techno music fans in Uzbekistan became champions for publicizing one of the world’s most dire ecological catastrophes. How? Simply by attending the ultra-remote Stiha Festival.

Sayat Nova - the 18th Century Caucasian Troubadour-poet Who Continues to Inspire

Sergei Paradjanov's The Colour of Pomegranates (1968) is a beautifully stylized examination of the 18th-century minstrel poet who went by the pen name 'Sayat Nova.' He composed songs in Azerbaijani, Armenian, Georgian and other languages.

15 April 2022

Caucasus, Culture