ISSN 2330-717X

Baku’s Shift On Political Prisoner Encourages Azerbaijani Opposition – OpEd


The decision of an Azerbaijani court to drop additional charges against regime critic and blogger Mekhman Guseynov ( and President Ilham Aliyev’s announcement that he will take personal control over Guseynov’s case is encouraging the Azerbaijani opposition

Ramis Yunus, a former Azerbaijani parliamentarian from the Musavat Party who now lives in the US, says on Facebook that Aliyev’s announcement indicates that “the regime in Baku for the first time in many years is seriously focusing on the angry voices of its citizens” about the treatment of opposition figures (

He suggests that this has happened because of the mass meeting which took place in Baku last Saturday at which participants demanded the release of Mekhman and other political prisoners (

“If we want to have an Azerbaijan where there will not be any political prisoners, Yunus says, “it is necessary to continue pressure on the regime of the Aliyevs and Pashayevs; and therefore, I call on everyone to support the next all-national meeting now set for January 26,” this Saturday.

He continues: “If we do not want to be more ashamed of the place of our country on the map of the world, then it is time to catch up with our neighbors in Georgia and Armenia which have gone far ahead in the democratization of their countries. We must recognize that the solution of our problems, including Nagorno-Karabakh, lies through Azerbaijan’s democratization.”

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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