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Stealing news from Azerbaijan.
USA’s National Democratic Institute (NDI) has been warned that its Baku Office will be shut down.
According to information given to RFE/RL Azerbaijani service, on 7 March head of NDI’s Azerbaijan agency Alex Grigoriev was called to the Ministry of Justice and given a letter of notice about the office being shut down.
The letter outlines that Azerbaijan’s legislation does not allow international organizations to operate in the country without registration, and demands that NDI stops all activity in Azerbaijan.
In the last five years, NDI has addressed the Ministry of Justice to go through registration several times but was refused each time.
Currently consultations are taking place with the US Embassy, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and NDI’s office in Washington.
Speaker for the United States Embassy in Baku Keith Bean has told RFE/RL that they are trying to clarify the issue regarding NDI’s agency. There will be an official statement as soon as this is done.
NDI had stopped its programs with political parties in Azerbaijan over a year ago. The Institute’s main activities were election monitoring and youth programs.
Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) colleague Mehman Huseynov was taken to Narimanov Police Station in Baku today. Giving information regarding the events to RFE/RL Azerbaijani service, Mehman Huseynov said that he was questioned about the “11 March – Great People’s Day in Azerbaijan” campaign on Facebook at the police station.
Mehman Huseynov says that prior to this some plainclothes men followed him, and took him and the driver out of the car and lead them into their own vehicle on 7 March at around 16:00, when they had stopped at the traffic lights near “Ganjlik” metro station.
According to Mehman Huseynov, staff at the criminal investigations department questioned him about his handing out campaign-related leaflets on 6 March, and about other organizers of the capmaign: “They asked me my address and phone number and let me out.”
He added that he would make a decision about the steps he will take about being taken to the police after he consults a solicitor.
Orkhan Mansurzada, Head of the Press Office department at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, tells RFE/RL that nobody is taken to police stations for stating their opinions in the press, and that statements regarding threats are groundless.
According to information given by Etibar Salmanli to RFE/RL Azerbaijani service, police came to his house situated in Bulbule looking for him; the reason given was that Salmanli hassled a female.
Etibar Salnali considers that the real reason for the police coming to look for him was that on 6 March he was handing out leaflets about joining the Facebook event 11 March – Great People’s Day in Azerbaijan, and his activity as a blogger. He believes that the policemen that came to his house were from 31st Police Office, Surakhani Police Department.
Etibar Salmanli says that he will only go to the police if there is an official summons.
However Orkhan Mansurzada, Head of the Press Office department at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, tells RFE/RL that nobody from Surakhani Police Department has gone to Salman’s house.
“It looks like this young man is trying to take advantage of the moment and get attention, as a wide campaign to vilify the police is taking place. But this is a futile attempt.”