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Award-Winning Azerbaijani Journalist Assaulted, Hospitalized

Azerbaijan Oil Company Clashes With Locals Over Demolition
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BAKU -- Security personnel from Azerbaijan's SOCAR state energy company have assaulted an award-winning investigative journalist, leaving him hospitalized.

According to an RFE/RL correspondent, Idrak Abbasov was beaten up on April 18 while he and other journalists were filming a confrontation that erupted as SOCAR employees were demolishing houses in the village of Sulutepe on the outskirts of the capital, Baku.

Abbasov's family said the journalist was now in the hospital and that his condition was serious.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has condemned the attack on Abbasov, with the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, calling on the Azerbaijani authorities to "take resolute steps to end all forms of violence against journalists."

Abbasov writes for the "Zerkalo" newspaper and is one of the founding members of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety in Azerbaijan.

Last month, he was awarded an international prize for his reporting by the Index on Censorship campaign group.

The Azerbaijani authorities have often been accused of stifling media rights, a charge they have consistently rejected.

With reporting by AFP

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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