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Police Break Up Opposition Rally In Azerbaijan

21 December 2004 -- Police today broke up a rally in Baku that had been called to protest official restrictions on freedom of assembly.

About 50 members of the Popular Front opposition party gathered near a subway station and shouted slogans including "Freedom!" and "Return the freedom of assembly to the people!"

When they began moving toward City Hall, they were met by police, who dispersed the demonstrators.

More than 15 people were detained for holding a protest without permission.

Tension between the government and the opposition in tightly controlled, oil-rich Azerbaijan has increased since an October 2003 election in which Ilham Aliyev replaced his father, longtime leader Heidar Aliyev, as president in a vote the opposition said was marred by fraud.


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