Azerbaijan. At the beginning of the year, the regime was
subjected to international pressure to release blogger
Mehman Huseynov, who was convicted of reporting corruption
in the presidential family. New indictments had been added
to Huseynov's case; he was accused of attacking a guard in
prison and was thus threatened by another seven years in
prison. The European Parliament urged the regime to close
the new prosecution and release Huseynov. In the capital
Baku, thousands of protesters gathered demanding Huseynov's
release and scanned "down with the dictatorship".
After three days, the prosecutor's office announced that
the new prosecution had been discontinued, and in March
Huseynov was released after serving the two-year sentence.
According to an Azerbaijani human rights group, 150
political prisoners were still in Azerbaijani prisons.
A couple of weeks later, an amnesty was announced for
over 400 prisoners, of whom about 50 were reported to be
sentenced for political reasons. Among those released were
several opposition politicians, including former Health
Minister Ali Insanov. He was considered a possible rival to
President Ilham Aliyev for power and had been imprisoned for
over a decade accused of embezzlement and bribery, which he
Several members of the opposition youth movement Nida
were also released, as was the journalist Fikrat
Faramazoglu. He was sentenced to seven years in prison after
reporting corruption within the police. Faramazoglu stated
that he was tortured in prison.
CountryAAH, the EU welcomed the Alijev regime's decision on amnesty,
expected more political prisoners to be released and
declared that it wanted to expand cooperation with
Azerbaijan on human rights.
The international organization Ilka ranked Azerbaijan the
worst in Europe in terms of rights for sexual minorities.
Ilka's index is based, among other things, on gender
equality in labor and marriage legislation.
In May, the Europa League final was played in football in
Baku between the English teams Arsenal and Chelsea. The
match was not the PR success that the Azerbaijani regime had
hoped for. International focus was directed at Arsenal's
Armenian big star Henrich Mchitarjan, who felt that the
Azerbaijani authorities could not guarantee his security. He
therefore stayed in London.
In October, Prime Minister Novruz Mamedov resigned
surprisingly. On the same day, President Ilham Aliyev
nominated his ally and adviser Ali Asadov as new head of
government. This was unanimously approved by Parliament.
Opposition umbrella organization The National Council for
Democratic Forces held several protests in Baku in October
demanding freedom of assembly, release of political
prisoners and lower gas and electricity prices. The police
violently intervened and many protesters were detained,
including opposition leader Ali Kerimli. Internet was shut
down and subway stations were blocked off to stop
protesters. New protests against women's oppression were
also stopped by police. Human Rights Watch criticized the
regime for not allowing peaceful rallies and demanded that
detainees be released and police violence investigated.
In December Parliament was dissolved and elections were
announced until February 2020.