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Transparency International Under Pressure In Azerbaijan

Rena Safaraliyeva, executive director of Transparency Azerbaijan, says the group has been unable to receive funds from abroad.

Transparency International’s office in Baku says it is being forced to suspend some of its projects in Azerbaijan because of problems receiving funds through its bank in Baku.

Transparency Azerbaijan executive director Rana Safaraliyeva told RFE/RL on August 27 that her team has not been able to receive financial support in the form of bank transfers from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for two months.

She said the Baku branch of Unibank, the bank used by her nongovernmental anticorruption group, has been returning wire transfers of funds sent by USAID -- citing technical problems.

Safaraliyeva’s remarks come less than two weeks after Human Rights Watch said Azerbaijan's government was pressuring independent organizations that are involved in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an international coalition that promotes openness in the oil and natural-gas industries.

In its August 15 statement, Human Rights Watch said Baku’s pressure on groups involved in that anticorruption initiative included the freezing of bank accounts and was part of a broader crackdown that has been escalating since the 2013 presidential election.