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Azerbaijan hires new PR firm; Edelman drops cryptocurrency client; Stellar Jay founder registers for Baku: Thursday’s Daily Digest

Azerbaijan defies Armenian boycott campaign with new PR hire

Azerbaijan has found a new public relations company to make its case in the US media despite calls by the influential Armenian-American diaspora to boycott the country.

Washington-based Portland PR is working for a Baku-based company called simply Investment Corporation LLC for $30,000 per month to provide “communications services regarding foreign policy matters and Azerbaijan relations with the United States.” This is the Investment Corporation’s second hire: The company hired the S-3 Group earlier in October, prompting the Armenian diaspora to demand that the Washington PR firm drop what it called a “thinly veiled front for the Government of Azerbaijan through a proxy shell corporation.”

Portland’s hiring comes as multiple Armenian-American groups have launched campaigns to pressure lobbyists to shun Azerbaijan and its allies. Several have already done so and others are under growing pressure to follow suit.

Read the story here.

New foreign lobbying filings (FARA)


Seychelles: Public relations giant Edelman notified HDR Global Trading on Oct. 23 that it will be ending its work for the company on Nov. 30, according to a new filing with the US Department of Justice. The Seychelles-registered company operates the cryptocurrency trading platform BitMEX. The termination announcement comes just weeks after the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Oct. 1 charged BitMEX owners with illegally operating a cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform and anti-money laundering violations. HDR signed the contract with Edelman Public Relations Worldwide (Hong Kong) in August 2019. Edelman has employees from around the world working on the account, including in the United States. The firm has disclosed $780,000 in payments from HDR through August 2020.


Azerbaijan: Stellar Jay Communications founder Jacob Kamaras has personally registered as a foreign agent for the government of Azerbaijan. Stellar Jay itself has been listed with the Department of Justice as an agent of Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Washington since January but had not registered anyone on the account. Kamaras, a former editor in chief of the Jewish News Syndicate, told Foreign Lobby Report that he was instructed to do so by the Justice Department. He is being paid $3,300 “per project” for media consulting, strategic communications, writing and editing as Azerbaijan battles Armenia in the court of public opinion over the conflict over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Japan: NHK Cosmomedia America of New York received $1.3 million from NHK Enterprises and Japan International Broadcasting Inc. in the six months through September to distribute NHK International TV and NHK World-Japan programming. President and CEO Kazuhiro Uemura stepped down during the period while Jun Fukuda replaced Hiroshi Sawada as executive vice-president.


Russia: Russian state development corporation Vnesheconombank (VEB) paid Geopolitical Solutions of Washington $281,000 in the six months through October for “advice and consultation on public affairs policy and media interactions.” The firm distributed press releases and brochures “to demonstrate [VEB’s] compliance and transparency initiatives and COVID-19 response” as it seeks to avoid any fallout from new potential US sanctions. Geopolitical Solutions signed a year-long, $750,000 contract to represent VEB last October. Former Qorvis executive Grace Fenstermaker is handling the account.