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Azerbaijan to Try Suspected Radicals for Police Killings

Critics say the authorities seek to divert anger at state repression onto little-known Muslim extremists.

4 December 2018

Prosecutors in Azerbaijan say 22 people will face trial over the violence that struck the country’s second largest city in July.

 

Several suspects are accused of spreading radical religious views and calling for violence and riots in the western city of Ganja, Azerpress.az reports.

 

Two police officers were killed during an anti-government protest on 10 July, a week after the city’s mayor was shot and wounded. Police said the main suspect in that attack, Yunis Safarov, belonged to a radical religious organization, RFE/RL wrote last month.

 

Police said they killed two religious extremists in Ganja on 4 November. Past violence in the city has been blamed on Islamic militants, RFE says.

 

Five months after, much about the events in Ganja remains murky.

 

The independent Azerbaijani news agency Turan said critics of Mayor Elmar Valiyev called the 10 July rally in protest at Safarov’s arrest, OC Media reported at the time. Valiyev was reportedly dismissed in late August.

 

Human rights activist Avaz Hasanov told OC Media the protest was organized through social media, but it the identities of the organizers and their demands were unclear.

 

Police said two men suspected of involvement in the deaths of the police officers were subsequently shot dead in separate operations, and that about 60 other suspects were detained, RFE said.

 

 

  • Azerbaijani authorities say Safarov is a Russian citizen who spent eight years in Qom, Iran and later received military training in Syria, according to OC Media.

 

  • A commentator for Turan said during Valiyev’s administration, Ganja officials suppressed the annual marches on Ashura, a major holiday for Shia Muslims, Caucasian Knot wrote.

 

  • The editor-in-chief of the Basta news site, Mustafa Hajibeyli, has been charged with deliberately misleading the public and spreading false information about the attempt on Valiyev’s life and a nationwide power outage the same day.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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