Azerbaijan. In March, the "president" of the
Nagorno-Karabakh breaker, Arkadij Gukasian, was subjected to
an armed attack. He was wounded but survived. A series of
arrests followed the attack, and the former enclave's former
defense minister was brought to justice accused of planning
the attack against Gukasian. Shortly after the assassination
attempt, fighting broke out at the border between Azerbaijan
and Armenia. Ten Azerbaijani soldiers were reported killed
in the clashes.
A few hundred people were arrested by police in May
following a demonstration involving several thousand people,
demanding the resignation of the single president Gejdar
Alijev. According to
COUNTRYAAH, the police were charged with assault against the
protesters. In June, Aliyev released about 80 political
prisoners, but many members of the political opposition were
still imprisoned. Assessors said that the release was linked
to an upcoming debate in the Council of Europe about
possible future membership of Azerbaijan.
Following criticism from the West, Aliyev agreed to the
demand that the opposition be allowed to register parties
and take part in the parliamentary elections in November.
Twelve opposition parties agreed to urge voters to gather
their votes for the Musavat Party led by Isa Gambar. But
when the election was over, Alijev's ruling party Yeni
Azerbaijan was proclaimed victorious with about 70% of the
vote, while the opposition parties would have received only
a handful of seats.
The opposition's own data spoke of Musavat's victory over
Yeni Azerbaijan and a turnout of only half of the 70%
officially declared. International observers explained that
the election had been undemocratic and that electoral fraud
had occurred in various forms. The opposition demanded new
elections. Protests against the regime erupted in several
parts of the country, and the police reportedly arrested
The ruling party's top candidate in the election was the
president's son Ilham Alijev, who had been elected
vice-chairman of the party the year before and who was
considered by many to be the next president.
According to a report from the World Bank during the
autumn, government corruption in Azerbaijan was worse than
in any other country in the world.