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Anti-Referendum Activists Arrested In Azerbaijan

Two activists collecting signatures in Azerbaijan to protest a planned referendum on presidential term limits whose passage would clear the path for at least one new term for President Ilham Aliyev have been arrested in Baku, according to RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service.

Movsum Asgarov and Rovshan Sadigov, of the opposition group For Karabakh and Republic, were charged after their February 23 detention with resisting arrest and drug possession.

Hasan Kerimov, the deputy chairman of the opposition coalition Popular Front Party, told RFE/RL that the charges are false and that the group will first seek justice in local courts and further at the European Court of Human Rights, if necessary.

Anar Mammadli, head of the Center for Election Monitoring and Democracy Education, told RFE/RL that there are concerns of police intimidation during the referendum campaign.

Mammadli said the interference by authorities is intended to "prevent voter participation in [referendum] debates."

Aliyev is in his second and final term under the current constitution.