About 1,500 prisoners in Azerbaijan can expect to receive a pardon for the Novruz holiday.
“It is expected that in the near future the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev will sign a pardon order,” speaker of the parliament, Ogtay Asadov,
on 23 February. According to the speaker, the pardon will affect about 1,500 prisoners. This seems to confirm earlier reports that a mass pardon was planned for the Novruz holiday.
Deputy Executive Secretary of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, Siyavush Novruzov, said recently that “the planned amnesty will cover a large number of prisoners, including those who are supposedly behind bars because of their political views, but are actually common criminals.”
“There have never been political prisoners [in Azerbaijan],” Novruzov
. “No one has been prosecuted for their political views. But membership in a party, a leading position in the media, or joining a religious movement can not insure that a person won’t commit a crime. Taking all this into account, I proposed the idea of releasing those whom the West considers political prisoners, to dispose of this plage once and for all.”