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Azerbaijan Announces Prisoner Amnesty

President Ilham Aliyev and his wife, Mehribon Aliyeva, at a polling station for the March 18 referendum
BAKU -- The Azerbaijani parliament has adopted an amnesty that is expected to result in the release about 2,000 inmates, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The amnesty will affect mostly women convicted for minor crimes, juvenile delinquents, handicapped inmates, and men over 60.

Parliament deputy Mehribon Aliyeva, who is also President Ilham Aliyev's wife, proposed the amnesty.

Opposition leaders and rights activists told RFE/RL that the amnesty falls short because no political prisoners will be freed.

They also say the amnesty was a political trick to gain support from citizens for the March 18 national referendum that would remove the ban on term limits and allow Aliyev to serve more terms as president.