Accessibility links

Breaking News


Aqil Humbatov was put in a psychiatric clinic.

BAKU -- The lawyer of a member of the opposition Popular Front Of Azerbaijan (AXCP) says the failure of a local court to provide documents is holding up his client's appeal and forcing him to remain in the psychiatric clinic he was placed in after criticizing the country's leadership.

Lawyer Nemat Karimli told RFE/RL on April 22 that his client Aqil Humbatov had yet to receive a copy of the April 2 court ruling which forcibly put him in a psychiatric clinic in Baku's Mastaga district.

"Without the written copy of the court's decision, we technically cannot appeal the ruling to the country's Supreme Court," Karimli said.

Critics of longtime President Ilham Aliyev's government say authorities of the oil-rich South Caucasus nation frequently seek to silence dissent by jailing opposition activists, reporters, human rights defenders, and civil society advocates without grounds.

Dozens of AXCP members have been arrested, and some imprisoned, in recent years on what their supporters have called trumped-up charges.

Humbatov was first detained on March 30, a day after he placed a post on Facebook that criticized the government and President Aliyev for ignoring the rights of poor children, many of whom need medical treatment.

He was sent to a psychiatric clinic the same day with a diagnosis of "paranoid personality disorder."

However, on April 1, a court ruled that Humbatov could not be placed in a clinic against his will and the activist was released.

Humbatov then published new posts on Facebook describing the conditions in the psychiatric clinic as "inhuman" and "horrible."

On April 2, police detained Humbatov again and a court of appeals in Baku ruled that he must be placed in a psychiatric clinic for treatment.

Humbatov, his wife, and his lawyer insist that he is absolutely healthy, both physically and mentally, and that there is no need to keep him in the clinic.

Aliyev denies any rights abuses. He took power in 2003 shortly before the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and communist-era leader who had ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.

A man is detained during a protest rally in Vladikavkaz on April 20.

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia – Authorities in Russia's North Caucasus region of North Ossetia have sentenced 13 people to jail terms of between three and 15 days for taking part in an unsanctioned rally against measures local authorities have put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

A court in the regional capital, Vladikavkaz, sentenced the 13 local residents late on April 21 after finding them guilty of resisting police and organizing a public event that led to the violation of public order.

Police in North Ossetia detained dozens of protesters a day earlier when about 2,000 people gathered in the central square of Vladikavkaz, demanding the resignation of regional leader Vyacheslav Bitarov.

The rally lasted for several hours until police violently dispersed it.

The protest was initiated online via social networks by North Ossetian opera singer Vadim Cheldiyev, who permanently resides in St. Petersburg.

In a video statement posted on social networks, Cheldiyev claimed that the authorities in North Ossetia are exaggerating the dangers of the coronavirus in the region so that they can "steal" from ordinary people. He gave no evidence of wrongdoing.

Cheldiyev was detained in St. Petersburg last week and brought to North Ossetia over the weekend. He was charged with spreading fake news about the coronavirus and assaulting police, which he vehemently denies, and placed in pretrial detention for two months.

On April 21, a court in Vladikavkaz ruled that Cheldiyev must pay a $75,000 ruble ($980) fine for spreading fake news about the coronavirus. His trial on the charge of assaulting police is pending.

Cheldiyev's lawyer has said his client has started a hunger strike to protest his arrest and the charges against him.

Load more

About This Blog

"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.


Journalists In Trouble

RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More