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HRW Says Illegal Azerbaijani Evictions Overshadowing Eurovision Contest

A simulation of the Baku Crystal Hall, where the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest will be held.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized the Azerbaijani authorities for what the group calls "the forcible eviction of residents to demolish the last standing building in the neighborhood of the capital, Baku, where the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is to be held."

Residents of the nine-story apartment block told U.S.-based HRW that construction workers forced them to leave their apartments this week.

And they say local authorities offered them inadequate housing compensation.

Hugh Williamson, HRW's Europe and Central Asia director, was quoted as saying Eurovision in Azerbaijan was being overshadowed by what he described as "the illegal evictions, expropriations, and demolitions for hundreds of local residents forced out from their homes."

The 2012 Eurovision contest will be held in Baku in May.

See RFE/RL's report with video in Azeri here