Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev pardons more than 400 in Nevruz amnesty

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Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Saturday pardoned dozens of jailed rights activists and political opponents as part of a broader amnesty for the Nevruz celebrations, his office said.

Among the 50 pardoned were Elgiz Qahraman, Bayram Mammadov and Qiyas Ibrahimov of the Nida youth opposition movement and journalist Fikrat Faramazoglu.

Leading opposition figures Fuad Qahramanli, Gozal Bayramli, and Alikram Xursudov were also among those pardoned as a result of the inquires by convicts themselves, their families, chief public auditor and their families.

In all, amnesty covers a total of 431 people, according to Aliyev’s decree published on his website.

This list of the released includes citizens of Georgia, Russia, China, India, Cameroon, Nigeria and Uzbekistan. There is also one Turkish national.

They include figures defined as human rights activists and critical journalists by Western NGOs.

Last year, he secured a fourth consecutive presidential term with 86 percent of the vote, in elections criticized by international observers.

He has ruled the oil-rich Caspian state since he was first elected in 2003, after the death of his father, Azerbaijan’s Soviet-era Communist leader and former KGB general Heydar Aliyev.

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