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5 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The opposition Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (AXCP) says unidentified attackers today ransacked its offices in the exclave of Nakhichevan.
Azerbaijan's independent Turan agency quotes Nakhichevan AXCP leader Asaf Quliyev as saying the assailants, numbering 25 and armed with metal bars, beat up party activists, and destroyed furniture before escaping. There was no immediate comment from regional authorities.
Quliyev links the attack to the anti-government rally that took place in Nakhichevan on 26 July. The demonstration, sanctioned by regional authorities, took place without noticeable incident. Azerbaijani authorities have stepped up pressure on the opposition ahead of the 6 November parliamentary elections.
The head of the Yeni Fikir (New Thinking) opposition youth movement, Ruslan Basirli, was arrested on 4 August in Baku. Police claim Basirli had received Armenian money to plot against the government. In a statement issued today, the AXCP leadership demands that Basirli be released immediately and denounces his arrest as a "provocation" on the part of the government.
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