Azeri President Gives Amnesty to Prisoners

BAKU (Reuters)–Azeri President Haidar Aliyev announced an amnesty on Tuesday for about 10,000 petty criminals to mark the 80th anniversary of the founding of the first–short-lived independent Azeri state.

Azerbaijan’s parliament approved Aliyev’s decision–under which the prisoners will be freed from jail–the parliamentary press service said.

The amnesty includes women–the disabled–and veterans and victims of Azerbaijan’s long conflict with Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Prisoners convicted of murder–rape–homosexual acts–treason–terrorism–theft and other crimes that are regarded as serious in Azerbaijan were not included in the amnesty–it said.

Azerbaijan was part of the Russian empire–but its leaders declared independence in 1918 as civil war erupted in Russia after the Bolsheviks’ seizure of power in Moscow. The anniversary of the declaration is being celebrated on May 28.

Moscow regained control in 1921 and retained it until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

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