DCI Group has signed a $20K a month contract with energy-rich and human rights-conflicted Azerbaijan for strategic PR, media outreach and establishment of relationships with U.S. think tanks.

The State Dept. considers Azerbaijan “one of the most important spots in the world for oil exploration and development.

It rates Azerbaijan human rights record as “poor, especially with respect to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, the administration of justice, and the respect of property rights.

Human Rights Watch reports that police on Oct. 20 rounded up peaceful anti-corruption demonstrators in the Azeri capital of Baku.

DCI’s agreement calls for it to emphasize “Azerbaijan’s energy resources and what they men for the U.S. and regional energy security.”

The firm also will play up Azerbaijan’s role as a member of the “northern distribution network” that the U.S. military uses to supply troops in Afghanistan. The network key as U.S. tensions with Pakistan make that country an unreliable supply route partner.

DCI is heavily engaged with think tanks because they are “vital contributors to the formulation of U.S. policy and serve as validators of official policy positions,” according to the agreement.

Its team of Justin Peterson; managing partner for global issues management; Ryan Grillo, Brussels office head, and Craig Stevens, who worked the Bush II administration, reports to H.E. Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the U.S.

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