Azerbaijan’s Beleaguered Opposition

by Nathan Hamm on 5/20/2005 · 3 comments

Baku Today has news that an Azeri opposition leader has died in mysterious circumstances.

Ehtiram Jalilov, 35, deputy head of Azerbaijan’s National Democratic Party, became the second opposition activist to die in unexplained circumstances this year, an allied opposition party, Musavat (Equality), said.

Jalilov was sipping tea with a colleague on Wednesday when he slumped dead at the table, according to Qabil Huseynli, deputy head of Musavat, one of the former Soviet republic’s best known opposition parties.

There have been a number of arrests this week–just days before a protest planned for Saturday.

“We think this has to do with the protest. The authorities are concerned that it will be huge and are arresting those people they think are responsible for its organization,” Huseynli said.

Late Thursday police also arrested Razi Nurullayev, the leader of Yokh, a burgeoning youth protest movement modeled on those that recently helped topple entrenched regimes in Georgia and Ukraine, a member said.

A police officer came to Nurullayev’s home and invited him out to a nearby teahouse for a chat, “the next thing we heard was that he was arrested and would be in custody for the next few days,” the Yokh member said on condition of anonymity.

Opposition groups say they plan to go ahead with the protest.

Update: Tim Russo has thoughts on Azerbaijan and US policy and Students for Global Democracy has updated info on Razi Nurullayev on their website. YOX released the following statement (which I got from Birge! and forgot to post this morning):

“YOX MOVEMENT AZERBAIJAN calls the attention of all the international community, organizations, foreign embassies, and other institutions that on May 19, 2005 approximately at 8PM, Razi Nurullayev, the co-chair of was detained by the local police officers near his house. The reason was resistance to a police employee. He was taken to a police station and was arrested and sentenced for 5 days of imprisonment.

“The reasons of the arrest are very doubtful. YOX MOVEMENT AZERBAIJAN considers all these acts as rough violation of human rights in the country.

“YOX MOVEMENT AZERBAIJAN calls all the international community to raise their voice for the protection of the rights of Razi Nurullayev.”

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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