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In the 19th century, the oil industry made Baku a wild boomtownconjuring images of grandiose buildings, adventure and of easily madefortunes. Today these European styled mansions still serve the elite,while the larger population subsisting in mass soviet flats, strugglewith economic reforms, high unemployment, corruption and a stubborninheritance of soviet social distrust.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia brought an influxof internally displaced refugees into Baku creating scores ofsettlements with poor living conditions. The young middle classstruggle with their identity, embroiled in a tussle of social valuesbetween inherited Muslim principles, remanence of imposed sovietculture and the ‘freedom’ of new western values. Quiet on the peripherythe older generation unwittingly wishes back the soviet era, gripingabout vanishing social benefits, jobs and equality.