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Dissident Azerbaijani Journalist Dies In Georgia Under Unclear Circumstances


Azerbaijani blogger Huseyn Bakixanov (file photo)

Georgian authorities are investigating the death of Azerbaijani opposition blogger Huseyn Bakixanov, who died on July 14 under unclear circumstances after apparently falling from a Tbilisi hotel.

News about the Azerbaijani government critic's death emerged only on July 29, two weeks after incident.

Two days before the event, Bakixanov made a video statement on YouTube while in an ambulance saying that five men he had met a few days earlier had attacked him in downtown Tbilisi.

"I do not believe that it was a random attack, because it happened just a couple of days before I am scheduled to get my asylum-seeker ID card" from Georgia, Bakixanov said at the time. "I cannot say for sure that the Azerbaijani government organized the attack, but it cannot be ruled out."

The Tbilisi-based Rights Georgia said on July 29 that Bakixanov had been in contact with the nongovernmental group about the asylum process in Georgia and a third country.

Tbilisi police say they were investigating his death as an apparent suicide.

A lawyer for the hotel where Bakixanov fell to his death said that they had hired Bakixanov on July 14.

Kakha Tsereteli, the lawyer of Stamba Hotel, said that Bakixanov went on the roof and committed suicide while receiving a tour of the building.

Bakixanov was arrested in Baku during an anti-government rally on May 7. He was then sentenced to 15 days in jail and allegedly tortured.

Shortly after that, Bakixanov left Azerbaijan for Georgia, where he continued to criticize the government via media outlets and his YouTube channel.

Azerbaijan has one of the world's most restrictive media environments and has been known to "aggressively target" opposition figures and journalists abroad, using tactics such as assaults, detentions, and unlawful deportations, according to a report by U.S.-based watchdog Freedom House.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Georgian Service, apsny.ge, JAMnews, and Civil.ge
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