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Azerbaijan Report: June 29, 2004

29 June 2004
Spring Session of Parliament Ends
On 29 June, the final day of the parliament spring session, deputies ratified a number of agreements with Turkey, including the Istanbul Declaration signed on 13 April 2004 during President Ilham Aliyev's visit to Turkey, an intergovernmental agreement on long-term economic cooperation, and an agreement on the protection of industrial property. Deputies also adopted in the third and final reading draft laws "On national security," "On intelligence and counter-intelligence activities," and "On registering immovable property."

In addition, deputies approved amendments and additions to the law "On the status of parliament deputies." During a debate on proposed amendments to the law on the state budget for 2004, Finance Minister Avaz Alekberov said budget revenues during the first six months of this year exceeded the anticipated sum by 500 billion manats (approximately $102 million). Deputies recommended that part of that sum be spent on the socioeconomic development of rural areas and on highway repairs.

(Zerkhanim Ahmedli)

Drugs Plantations Found in Provinces
Police discovered a marijuana plantation in Agjabedi Raion on 29 June. According to the district police department, they seized 1,102 marijuana plants of Afghan and Chinese origin with a total weight of 1,227 kilograms. Two similar plantations containing 15 and 70 kilograms of plants, respectively, were discovered earlier in Tar-Tar Raion, but it has not proved possible to determine their owners.

(Fakhreddin Hajybeli)

Opposition Defendants May Boycott Trial Again
At the 29 June sitting of the trial of seven opposition activists charged with organizing mass riots in the wake of the 15 October presidential elections, the defendants petitioned the court, asking that additional witnesses, including opposition supporters and senior government officials, be summoned to testify. The presiding judge rejected all those requests. Rauf Arifoglu, who is editor in chief of the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat," said that in light of such "arbitrary decisions," he and his six co-defendants are justified in boycotting future sessions. In May, the seven men declared a similar boycott of the preliminary hearing to protest the judge's rejection of their requests.

(Kebiran Dilaverli)