The Azerbaijani government has forced the local chapter of the global corruption watchdog Transparency International to scale back its activities in the South Caucasus nation.
The move is part of a long-running crackdown on the country’s civil-society sector. But this particular episode perhaps resonates more than others because the local chapter had developed a reputation for being cautious in its approach toward the government, which international watchdogs – including Transparency International (TI) – contend is one of the more corrupt in the world.
It is also stoking criticism of Western governments and advocacy organizations that fund many of Azerbaijan’s largest civil society groups for adopting an allegedly restrained approach in dealings with Baku.
On August 1, Transparency Azerbaijan (TA) closed two legal aid centers in the cities of Ganja and Guba, and its main office in Baku “substantially scaled down its activities,” the group said in a statement.
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Durna Safarova is a freelance journalist who covers Azerbaijan.