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Police Detain Azerbaijani Opposition Leader After Fundraiser

Opposition leader Ali Karimli (file photo)
Opposition leader Ali Karimli (file photo)

BAKU -- Police in Baku briefly detained the leader of the opposition Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (AXCP), Ali Karimli, before letting him go amid allegations he was trying to undermine public stability.

Opposition politician Tofiq Yaqublu told RFE/RL that police detained Karimli on June 28 as he was leaving an event in the capital to raise money to help activists in the former Soviet republic pay fines resulting from what they call bogus charges.

Police officials gave no explanation for Karimli's detainment, but Yaqublu said the authorities were trying to disrupt the fundraising event organized at the headquarters of the opposition Musavat party.

Critics of longtime President Ilham Aliyev's government say authorities of the oil-rich South Caucasus nation frequently seek to silence dissent by jailing reporters, human-rights activists, and civil-society advocates without grounds.

Dozens of AXCP members have been arrested, and some imprisoned, in recent years on what their supporters have called trumped-up charges.

Aliyev denies any rights abuses. He took power in 2003 shortly before the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and communist-era leader who had ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.