"I had my master's degree diploma from Harvard and I was not able to verify that this diploma is a legal document in the republic of Azerbaijan," Baxtiyar Haciyev, an Azerbaijani citizen and public policy graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service.
Haciyev was planning to start up a newspaper, which, he thought, would come handy in campaigning for a parliament seat. One of the documents required for registration was a higher education diploma. But, to his surprise, his electronically signed master's degree from Harvard was rejected by the Azerbaijani authorities despite the fact that electronically signed documents enjoy the same status as handwritten ones under Azerbaijani law.
"They were requesting a document which has a seal or ink stamp," Haciyev said.
The young Harvard graduate faced similar obstacles while attempting to register as a candidate for the upcoming parliament elections in Azerbaijan, due in November.
Local constituency No. 17 refused to recognize his electronically signed employment contracts with the World Bank and Education Development Center, which were required to prove his financial standing. As a result, his request for candidacy registration was turned down.
The Central Election Commission, to which he turned for assistance, appeared unmoved.
Haciyev has vowed to continue his legal battle, and claims that he'll be seeking justice in the European Court of Human Rights if the constituency denies his right to run for parliament.
-- Anna Zamejc