Baku Protest

by Nathan Hamm on 6/5/2005 · 2 comments

The government said they’d stop them, but proved itself unwilling or unable to stop 5,000-10,000 people from marching in Baku to demand free elections and the resignation of President Aliyev’s government.

In a flashback to the peaceful revolt that ousted an entrenched regime in Ukraine last year, members of the Yeni Fikir youth movement wore orange shirts and headbands and directed shouts of “step down” at the country’s leadership.

“We want a normal government, we want this regime to give up power,” said Ruslan Bashirli, the leader of Yeni Fikir, one of the youth protest groups that have mushroomed in Azerbaijan ahead of a parliamentary election scheduled
for November.

Bashirli said the group would push for a “peaceful, velvet revolution” during the elections.

The AFP is probably right to say that the government allowed the protest to avoid the criticism that followed its crackdown on smaller protests last month. Which makes for a potentially interesting situation in Azerbaijan. As Onnik points out in comments at Blogrel, Azerbaijan’s government will save its arrests for late-night raids on opposition leaders’ homes. On the other hand, Aliyev has shown a surprising (well, for the region, anyway) willingness to give ground to avoid embarrassment at the very least. It appears that Aliyev may end up one of the rare states in the region in which it doesn’t seem absolutely nuts to think that the country stands a fair chance of becoming more democratic without its president being chased from power. Not that I’m putting money on it or anything, but the noticeable lack of indignant declarations of everlasting rectitude and a perfect record of improvement out of Aliyev gives some cause for hope.

There still are plent of signs that all kinds of nastiness are in for the opposition though what with things like this.

More at Publius Pundit and Blogrel

And, one of the cooler “kid at a protest” pictures I’ve seen.

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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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