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F1 Official Says Azerbaijan Grand Prix Is On

A top Formula 1 official says the Azerbaijani Grand Prix is on track to take place next year despite international criticism of Baku's human rights record.

Formula 1 commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone said on April 19 that there "doesn't seem to be any big problem" in Azerbaijan.

Several Western countries and the rights groups have called for the Formula 1 race as well as this summer's 2015 European Games not be held in Azerbaijan because of the detention and jailing of more than 30 rights activists, journalists, and opposition politicians in the past year.

They include rights activist Leyla Yunus, whose husband is also jailed; Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist and RFE/RL contributor; human rights lawyer Intiqam Aliyev; and youth activist Rasul Cafarov.

A 2015 report by Human Rights Watch said the Azerbaijani government "escalated repression against its critics, marking a dramatic deterioration in its already poor rights record."

The race will be held on the streets of the capital.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters