Prominent Editor Arrested in Azerbaijan

BAKU (EurasiaNet)–Authorities in Azerbaijan have arrested the editor of the opposition Yeni Musavat newspaper Rauf Arifoglu–alleging that he helped organize post-presidential election disturbances in the capital of Baku. The arrest occurred as the executive committee of the opposition Musavat Party formally refused to recognize the results of the presidential election.

Prior to being jailed–Arifoglu–who is also a top Musavat Party official–spent almost 4 hours answering questions from Azerbaijani prosecutors–the Turan news agency reported October 27. According to Arifoglu’s attorney–Samed Panahov–the newspaper editor was charged with two criminal code violations–including conspiracy to organize an unauthorized demonstration. The editor faces up to 90 days in jail–Panahov told Turan.

Arifoglu’s arrest underscores that the government’s crackdown against opposition activists is ongoing. Hundreds have been arrested in connection with the rioting that followed President-elect Ilham Aliyev’s hotly disputed victory in the October 15 presidential vote. International observers have found the election was tainted by fraud. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

One of the prime targets of government pressure has been the Musavat Party–the leader of which–Isa Gambar–finished a distant second to Aliyev in the official Central Election Commission voting results. Some exit polls–however–indicated that Gambar should have received more votes than Aliyev.

On October 27–the Musavat Party executive committee–or divan–held its first session since the election and voted not to recognize the election results "due to [their] total falsification," Turan reported. Gambar–who has been under virtual house arrest since the election–did not participate in the session–which was chaired by the party’s first deputy chairman–Vurgun Eyyub. According to Turan–17 of the executive committee’s 24 members participated in the session.

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