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Exiled opposition leader Rasul Quliyev (Turan) 20 October 2005 -- The United States says it is disturbed by steps the government of Azerbaijan took this week, arresting demonstrators and detaining candidates ahead of next month's parliamentary elections.


State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said today the government of President Ilham Aliyev also was restricting media access for opposition candidates and deploying security forces to break up protests.


He said these actions raise questions about the Azerbaijani government's commitment to a democratic campaign.


Ukrainian authorities today released Azerbaijani opposition leader Rasul Quliyev, who was detained under an Interpol warrant on 17 October while reportedly en route to Azerbaijan.


Azerbaijan is a country of strategic importance to the West because it is the starting point for a pipeline that is to bring Caspian Sea oil to Western markets.


(AP)


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