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Azerbaijani Political Activist Detained For Evading Military Service

Azerbaijani activist Baxtiyar Haciyev in September 2010

Azerbaijani activist Baxtiyar Haciyev in September 2010

GANCA, Azerbaijan -- A former Azerbaijani parliament candidate and youth activist has been charged with evading military service, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

On January 24, police detained Baxtiyar Haciyev while he was on his way to neighboring Georgia. Haciyev told RFE/RL that police kept him in the police station in the western town of Qazax until 3 a.m. He was then transferred to the western city of Ganca.

Haciyev was taken by police on January 25 to the Ganca prosecutor's office, where the prosecutor told him that a criminal case had been launched into his alleged military service evasion.

Haciyev said there is no proof that he tried to avoid military service. He said the charges were baseless, since a law adopted in 2006 postponed undergraduate and graduate students' obligation to serve in the military.

Haciyev added that the criminal case against him is politically motivated because he had criticized the government on public television during the election campaign last year.

Haciyev's next questioning at the prosecutor's office was scheduled for January 26. He was told not to leave Ganca.

Haciyev, 29, is a Harvard graduate who earned a master's degree in political science in 2008.

Haciyev ran for a seat in parliament representing the Yasamal region, but the November 7 elections were won overwhelmingly by pro-presidential candidates. That vote was criticized by international observers as being neither free nor fair and plagued by irregularities.

Read more in Azeri here