Published: 28 March 2016
In March, 2014 a court sentenced Ilgar Mammadov, a prominent political analyst and chairman of the opposition group REAL (Republican Alternative), to seven years in prison, and Tofig Yagublu, deputy chair of the opposition political party Musavat and a columnist with the opposition daily Yeni Musavat, to five years for allegedly instigating violence on January 24, 2013, in the Ismayilli district, a regional center northwest of Baku. Anti-government riots broke out in Ismayilli when a relative of the local governor drove his car into an electricity pole and started a fight with a taxi driver parked nearby. The next day, there were several clashes between police and an angry mob of protesters calling for the governor’s resignation. Mammadov traveled to Ismayilli on January 24 to find out firsthand information about the developments there and reported about it on his blog. Yagublu also travelled to Ismayilli on assignment for his paper.
In May the European Court of Human Rights found that the authorities detained Mammadov without any evidence to reasonably suspect him of having committed the offence with which he was charged and concluded that the actual purpose of his detention “was to silence or punish [Mammadov] for criticizing the Government and attempting to disseminate what he believed was true information that the Government was trying to hide.”