Police in the former Soviet Azerbaijan republic have beaten and arrested dozens of protesters during a rally in the capital, Baku. Opposition parties held the rally despite a warning from Interior Minister Ramil Usubov who said police would break up the protest, The Associated Press reported.
Opposition supporters defied the authorities and tried to hold the demonstration ahead of parliamentary elections set for November. Thousands of supporters from the Caspian Sea nation’s largest opposition, Azadlig, marched through Baku.
All across the city centre, groups of protesters tried to make their way through the police cordons. On one of the streets, they raised their hands to prove that they were not armed. Many held flowers to show their protest was peaceful, the BBC reported.
But as soon as they began to chant anti-government slogans, the police moved forward. They chased the demonstrators down the streets, beating them with batons.
The chief of Baku police, addressing media after the event, denied reports of injuries and said the organizers had been warned well in advance not to proceed with the unsanctioned rally.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
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