About 1,000 Azerbaijani held a rally on Sunday to protest against a crackdown on human rights as economic problems mount on the eve of the European Games and in the run-up parliamentary elections in November.
The protesters demanded that authorities pay compensation for the damage that people have suffered as a result of the devaluation of the national currency. Hit by the fall in global oil prices, the ruble’s drop against the dollar in neighboring Russia and the separatist war in east Ukraine, Azerbaijan devalued the manat currency in February.
The rally, which was sanctioned by authorities and organised by the National Council, a group of main opposition parties, was held at a stadium on the outskirts of the capital Baku.
Other demands included the release of country’s nearly hundred political prisoners and punishment for the officials responsible for corruption and misconduct that led to the residential building fire on May 19, in which 15 were killed and dozens injured. A 2011 investigation for RFE/RL revealed that members of Global Construction – a company deemed responsible — received more than $540 million in suspicious loans from the International Bank of Azerbaijan.
The RFE/RL recent story on the tower block inferno in Baku can be seen HERE