Five activists in Azerbaijan were detained after attempting to protest in front of the headquarters of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) in Baku.
They were also protesting the decision to replace Republic Day on 28 May with a new holiday, Independence Day, on 18 October.
Activists fear that the removal of the references to a ‘Republic’ could signal the authorities’ desire to play down the democratic aspect of Azerbaijan’s constitution.
Police detained the protesters, Rustam Ismayilbeyli, Elmir Abbasov, Ahmad Mammadli, Samir Akhundzade, Ali Mahmudlu, and Farid Imanov, as soon as the demonstration began.
As they were being detained, the activists shouted ‘long live the republic!’
Interior Ministry spokesman Elshad Hajiyev told OC Media that a report was drawn up against Elmir Abbasov for disobeying police.
‘The other detainees were released after a preventive interview’, he said.
Abbasov’s lawyer, Elchin Sadigov, told OC Media that Abbasov had been sentenced to 30 days in prison.
‘Elmir Abbasov stated that he exercised his constitutional right to freedom of assembly and will appeal to the Court of Appeals against the verdict’, Sadigov said.
Rustam Ismayilbayli, one of the protesters released that evening, wrote on Facebook that he was mistreated by police.
‘I am very tired at the moment and I am still in severe pain due to the beatings I received while being detained at the police station’, he wrote.