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Ukrainian Authorities Release Azerbaijani Oppositionist

Rasul Quliyev (file photo) (Turan) Simferopol, Ukraine; 20 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- 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.

Osman Kazimov, one of Quliyev's lawyers, today told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service by phone from Simferopol, Ukraine, that a judge released Quliyev after dismissing extradition materials presented by Azerbaijani authorities:

"Ten minutes ago, the judge of Jeleznodorojni region of Simferopol announced her decision," Kazimov said. "The judge dismissed both the request of the prosecution to prolong the detention of Mr. Quliyev and the extradition materials presented by the Azeri side. The judge found Azerbaijan’s extradition request baseless and inadmissible and Rasul Quliyev was released."

Azerbaijan accuses Quliyev of embezzlement.

Quliyev, exiled leader of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, was detained at the airport in Crimea's capital Simferopol while reportedly en route to Baku after nine years of exile. He had said that he was returning to Azerbaijan to run in the 6 November parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, in Baku, authorities arrested former Economy Minister Farhad Aliyev, who was sacked yesterday.

Azerbaijani authorities say Farhad Aliyev is suspected of conspiring with Quliyev to conduct a coup in Azerbaijan. They say Aliyev and his brother Rafiq, the head of the Azpetrol oil firm, were funding the opposition.

(with additional reporting by local and international news agencies)