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Azeris have no money for protests?2012-10-19 16:40
Initiative by the deputy Rafael Dzhebrailova, who had proposed to substantially increase penalties for participants and organizers of unauthorized protests, has led to heated debate in the Azerbaijani society. Experts believe the proposal is contrary to the norms accepted in the world. Moreover, it can affect the image of the head of state, who is soon starting preparations for presidential elections.
Dzhebrailov proposed amendments to the law "On freedom of assembly", the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offences. According to the proposed changes, the participant of an unauthorized action will be fined from 500 to 1000 manat. Previously, the fine was from 7 to 13 manats. For the organizers the penalty provides a fine from 1500 to 3000 manat. If the organizers are officials, the amount of fine will be raised to 3000-6000 manat. If the organizer is a legal person, it will have to shell out from 15 to 30 thousand manat.
Political observers believe that the deputy's proposal is contrary to democratic values accepted in the world. Under the norms, free assembly on prior notice or spontaneous actions cannot be forbidden if they are not accompanied by a violation of public order, damage to the environment and human health, propaganda of violence, religious, ethnic, political or racial hatred and do not coincide in time and place with other actions.
"Unfortunately, instead of taking into account relevant approach of the Council of Europe and the OSCE, they attempt to further restrict the law in this area", stated in the Center for election monitoring and democracy training (TSMVOD). The head of the Center Anar Mammadov says this is the reason why he considers the proposed measures unfair, illegitimate and contrary to the obligations of the state. "This initiative is also aimed against freedom of expression, which is an integral part of the freedom of assembly, and contrary to the Constitution of Azerbaijan, the European Convention on Human Rights, the OSCE Copenhagen Document, and so on. So before the bill must be sent for examination to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and the OSCE ODIHR", the head of the TSMVOD believes.
Most of political analysts oppose this initiative and believe that it damages the image of power. According to the expert Elchin Aliyev, the proposal is designed for election campaign.
Presidential election in Azerbaijan is scheduled for 2013. Executive secretary of the ruling party "Yeni Azerbaijan" Ali Akhmedov said recently that in every election the party applies new political strategies aimed at the specific situation. According to Elchin Aliyev, Dzhebrailov's proposal contradicts the statement of the Executive Secretary and "crosses up" the ruling party.
In the current situation in the country there are objectively no real alternative to the current President Ilham Aliyev. With proper organization of the campaign, he can win the election by a wide margin, as it was in previous times. The only weak link is that he runs for a third term. But we must not forget that this is in accordance with local law. International observers may focus on this weak link. "I think that the main efforts of the pro-government forces will be directed specifically to neutralize international pressure in relation of the third term in office. From this perspective, Dzhebrailov's proposal can become a "disservice" and further worsen the situation", the expert says.