They’ve battled police in the streets and they’ve challenged authority the courts. Now, faced with staggering increases in fines for unauthorized demonstrations, Azerbaijani opposition activists are turning to Facebook to get their messages out.
A November 10 amendment to the Law on Freedom of Assembly hiked penalties for participation in unsanctioned protests nearly eighty-fold from a mere seven to 13 manats ($9-$16) to a hefty 500 to 1,000 manats ($637-$1,275).
Those charged with organizing such protests would incur far larger fines: depending on the extent of the individual’s alleged role, the punishment would range from 1,500 to 30,000 manats ($1,900 to $38,265). The average monthly salary in Azerbaijan is currently about 388 ($494) manats. The penalties for organizers represent up to a six-fold increase over earlier fines.
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