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The United States says it is "troubled" by an attack on journalists in Azerbaijan last week and has urged respect for rights ahead of presidential elections on October 9.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said, "We urge the authorities to protect the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association."

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reported that a group of independent and opposition journalists were attacked by a pro-government mob in the town of Sabirabad at a rally for the country's united opposition presidential candidate, Camil Hasanli, on October 4.

Harf said Washington urges "a free, fair, and transparent process leading up to and on election day," saying there were both "positive and negative aspects" of the campaign period. The country's autocratic incumbent, Ilham Aliyev, is expected to win a third term.
Mourners and journalists gather outside the Novaya Gazeta offices in Moscow on October 7 next to the newly unveiled plaque commemorating Anna Politkovskaya.
Rights activists and supporters are commemorating the death of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the seventh anniversary of her murder.

Russia's "Novaya gazeta" newspaper, where Politkovskaya worked, unveiled a commemorative plaque to the journalist. Commemorative gatherings and pickets were also organized at other locations in Moscow and in St. Petersburg.

In Berlin, a concert was staged to show solidarity with victims of violence and rights violations in Russia.

Politkovskaya, who reported on atrocities committed by Russian forces and pro-Kremlin armed groups in Chechnya, was shot dead outside her Moscow apartment on October 7, 2006. Five suspects are on trial for alleged involvement in her murder.

"Novaya gazeta" journalist Anna Politkovskaya in a February 2001 photo in the village of Khatuni
"Novaya gazeta" journalist Anna Politkovskaya in a February 2001 photo in the village of Khatuni
In a statement, Washington urged "redoubled efforts" to solve the case.

Several other Western governments and rights organizations issued similar statements.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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