On July 20, a protest was held in front of the Cabinet of Ministers building in Baku, demanding the opening of land borders.
Activists who took part in the rally chanted the slogans “Close the borders, do not keep the people captive” and called for broad resignations.
The street leading to the building of the Cabinet of Ministers was closed by police units, and the protesters were blocked from crossing to other streets. After that, the participants of the action found themselves trapped in a small area. Police officers forcefully pushed some of them into their service vehicles.
In total, more than 40 protestors were detained. They were released after being taken to different police stations.
An arrest warrant was issued for Aziz Mamiyev, a member of the Board of Directors of the Youth Organization of the oppostion party Musavat. He was found guilty of disobeying a legal request of the police and sentenced to 30 days of administrative imprisonment.
Zeyni Huseynov, head of the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said that Aziz Mamiyev did not comply and resisted to the policeman’s orders. For this reason, an administrative protocol was drawn up about him.
The Musavat Party is concerned about Mamiyev’s detention, claiming that his arrest was illegal and unfounded.
On July 9, activist and member of the Musavat Party, Tofig Yagublu, applied for a permission to an action demanding the opening of land borders to the Baku City Executive Power. The request was not accepted, but the organizers decided to go ahead with the protest anyway.
Land borders are closed in Azerbaijan since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Citizens who need to go abroad must buy an airline ticket from one of the few companies that operate in the country, such as the state-owned Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) and its low-cost subsidiary Buta Airways. Moreover, Azerbaijani airports are owned and operated by the government. Because of that, civil aviation in the country has monopoly features and very high ticket prices. This policy affects especially low-income families that had road trips as an alternative to airplanes. President Ilham Aliyev, however, claimed at press conference the closing of the land borders is a necessary step to prevent the spread of COVID-19.