Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor General’s Office announced on Tuesday, January 22, that new criminal charges brought against anticorruption blogger Mehman Huseynov have been dropped. The decision was announced after thousands of people protested in Baku on Saturday, January 19, and the European Parliament pass a resolution calling for Huseynov’s release. Despite the decision to drop the new charges, opposition parties may hold a demonstration at the Mehsul Stadium in Baku on Saturday, January 26. Heightened security measures and localized traffic disruptions are expected if the rally is held.
Rallies in support of Huseynov have been held in Baku throughout early January, resulting in the arrest of 15 people, with three receiving three-week jail sentences. Huseynov was arrested in March 2017 on defamation charges and sentenced to two years in prison. He was originally scheduled to be released in March 2019 but a new criminal case was brought against him on December 26, 2018, for allegedly beating a prison official. Huseynov denied the charge and launched a hunger strike. Journalists and political activists claim that the accusations are false and an attempt by the government to silence Huseynov, who exposed alleged high-level corruption and highlighted social concerns in his online videos.
Individuals in Baku are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests as a precaution, and avoid discussing sensitive political topics in public or on social media platforms.
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