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Aliyev Slams Opposition Groups As 'Venal'

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev
BAKU -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has described the political opposition in his country as "venal groups who sold their conscience for money from abroad."

Talking at an economic conference in Baku on February 5, Aliyev said that the last presidential election in October spelled "the end of the opposition, the top of its shame."

He also said that "those who receive grants from abroad have no place in Azerbaijani politics." The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) condemned the October polls as "seriously flawed," saying they were marred by a "restrictive media environment" and allegations of intimidation.

Presidential candidate Ilqar Mammadov and independent election observer Anar Mammadli were incarcerated and are awaiting trial.

At least two opposition journalists were sentenced to lengthy jail terms on what the opposition calls trumped-up charges after the election.