Youth organizations in Azerbaijan are linking the recent arrest of a 20-year-old activist who called for a “Day of Rage” in Baku to the government’s apparent concern about political fallout from events in Egypt. Azerbaijani police deny that the arrest had any political connection.
A relative newcomer to political activism, Jabbar Savalanly, a member of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan’s youth organization, was arrested in the city of Sumgayit, about 20 miles west of Baku, on February 5. He was charged with possession of 0.7 grams of marijuana. The Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA) and other opposition parties, youth organizations and human rights activists contend that the drugs were planted on Savalanly by police.
Savalanly first gained visibility on January 20, the 21st anniversary of the brutal Soviet crackdown on pro-independence protesters in Baku, when a group of Popular Front Party activists clashed with police over an attempted rally to commemorate victims of the crackdown.
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Khadija Ismayilova is a freelance reporter based in Baku and hosts a daily program on current affairs broadcast by the Azeri Service of RFE/RL.