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Azerbaijani Opposition Denied Approval For Rally In Baku Center

BAKU -- The Baku city council today rejected a request by an opposition group to stage a demonstration in the city center on April 16, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The opposition Public Chamber specifically asked for approval to gather in front of the Narimanov Cinema in downtown Baku. But it also proposed Sahil Park in front of the headquarters of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party as an alternative venue, which was also rejected.

The Baku city council advised the Public Center in a letter to hold the protest at a small stadium on the city's outskirts.

Tofiq Yaqublu, deputy head of the opposition Musavat party, told RFE/RL that a final decision on the venue for the protest will be made by the Public Chamber on April 15.

The opposition's attempts to stage protests on March 12 and April 2 were forcibly dispersed by police. Dozens of activists were arrested and nine were sentenced to two-month administrative detentions for violating public order and resisting government officials.

Musavat party leader Isa Qambar and Ali Karimli, head of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, received a summons from police today to testify on April 15 in connection with the criminal case into the April 2 protest.

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