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Liveblog: Azerbaijan Votes For President

Voters went to the polls in Azerbaijan today. President Ilham Aliyev, who has kept a tight grip on power, is expected to easily win a third term.

President Ilham Aliyev casts his ballot at a polling station in Baku.
17:06 9.10.2013
17:05 9.10.2013
United opposition candidate Hasanli has released a statement on the election. He claims to have received information from all over the country on massive irregularities and falsifications.

“The authorities think they have settled the fate of elections and I think they are seriously mistaken," he said. "Total falsification of elections is a brutal violation of people’s right to elections and is openly disrespectful. All falsifications are being registered by our election headquarters and the local and international community is being informed about it.”

H/T Arife Kazimova
16:54 9.10.2013
Official reaction to a user-generated video from Shamkir, which was posted earlier.

Nizami Sadygov, a campaign official in Shamkir, tells RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that the video's date-stamp on YouTube (October 8), proves that it was not filmed today. The opposition-friendly Meydan TV, however, says it proves no such thing. The video could be displaying a U.S. time-stamp -- it would have still been October 8 in much of the U.S., when elections began today.

Sadygov admits the video was filmed at the polling station, but says it is a provocation.

"Maybe it was done yesterday -- I don't know how," he says. "I know one thing. I went myself and asked and they said that there were absolutely no violations."

Here's the video again:

16:08 9.10.2013
Some on Twitter have dismissed PACE's mid-afternoon report -- that no irregularities have been seen -- as a result of so-called "caviar diplomacy."

Baku has spent millions on presenting a positive picture of its government to the West, often feting western influencers, including the Council of Europe, in the capital.

In June, three former high-level officials for U.S. President Barack Obama flew in for the "USA-Azerbaijan: Vision for the Future" conference. "The Washington Post" said the officials were given "five-figure checks" and a report in "The Washington Diplomat" said it was "among the biggest concentrations of American political star power ever seen in the Caucasus." Eleven members of Congress also attended.
15:46 9.10.2013
The biggest complaint from opposition activists thus far appears to be carousels -- groups of voters are brought from one polling station to another in an effort to cast numerous ballots.

This Twitter user says, "Today, Azerbaijan has turned into the world's largest theme park."

Adnan Hajizada, a blogger and activist, posts this video of the old Soviet cartoon, "Happy Carousel."

15:37 9.10.2013
This person says she is too young to vote, but posts a photo of a ballot with Aliyev's name checked. "The choice for me would have been an obvious one."

15:32 9.10.2013
The news service reports that one opposition leader, Eldar Namazov, called today's vote "the dirtiest election in the history of independent Azerbaijan."

Ibragimbekov said in a phone interview from Moscow that Hasanli would win if legitimate elections were being held.

"But the government will use any and all possible types of violations to rig the vote," he added.
15:19 9.10.2013
A correspondent for our Azerbaijani Service in Baku reports witnessing carousel voting in the Binagdi region of the city. He said several groups of five to six teachers and parents voted in one polling station and then went on to vote in another. Video forthcoming.
15:12 9.10.2013
Representatives from the observer mission from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) say that they have not yet observed violations.
15:06 9.10.2013
From Human Rights Watch researcher.

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