20 February 2012
In May, the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan will for the first time host the Eurovision Song Contest. The authorities are busy preparing the capital Baku, including building a new concert hall. But residents of nearby apartment blocks say they are being forced to leave their homes.
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Despite freezing temperatures and recent heavy snow, Azerbaijan's authorities have taken the roof off the apartment block and cut off water and phone lines, forcing residents of the building's upper floors to leave, whether they like it or not.
Pensioner Natalya Allibiakova is one of the few home owners still left. She says the compensation offered by the government is not enough to buy a similar property elsewhere.
She told the BBC that Eurovision will now for her always be a painful reminder of how she lost her home.
Azerbaijan's authorities argue that the compensation is adequate and Eurovision's organisers say the evictions are nothing to do with the contest.
But human rights organisation Human Rights Watch says the evictions risk overshadowing the song contest.
Azerbaijan sees Eurovision as a chance to attract international attention, but that spotlight is proving less welcome, as it's also revealing alleged human rights abuses.
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- cut off
stopped the supply of
money paid to someone because of loss or damage
- a painful reminder
something which makes a person think about a difficult time in their life
forcing people out of their homes
- human rights
basic moral entitlements people should have, such as justice and freedom to say what they believe
something negative which takes our attention away from a positive event
said that bad things have happened without final proof
bad treatment of