Nearly five years after the Azerbaijani government began a renewed crackdown on dissenting voices, the environment remains hostile for opposition parties. The authorities create the semblance of a multi-party system by financing political parties whose role is to function as the opposition while maintaining the status quo. Some fear that suppressing genuine opposition and excluding it from the political arena will lead to more radical forms of activism, which could ultimately be damaging for the state.
Azerbaijan is holding snap presidential elections on 11 April under a new constitution. Despite the opposition candidates not barred from or boycotting the race trying to present themselves as independent or oppositional, there is little doubt Ilham Aliyev will be reelected to a now extended term of seven more years.
Tbilisi city authorities have come under fire for a recent decision to privatise a plot of land in central Tbilisi. The sale was for just ₾1 ($0.40), to a company connected to Georgia’s wealthiest, and perhaps most influential person — billionaire ex–Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.
On 13 July, Moscow City District Court concluded the trial of five Chechen-born men accused of murdering Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. All were found guilty and sentenced to 11–19 years in prison.
Human rights activist Mehman Galandarov was found dead in Baku Detention Centre on 28 April; according to an official statement by the authorities, Galandarov committed suicide.
The Republican Party under President Serzh Sargsyan hopes to solidify its grip on power when Armenians go to the polls on 2 April. But, new developments amongst the opposition along with the death on hunger strike of the ‘Bread Bringer’ have made the contest far more unpredictable than the ruling party would like.