Azerbaijani blogger and asylum seeker Huseyn Bakikhanov took his own life at the Stamba Hotel in Tbilisi, a lawyer for the hotel has told OC Media.
According to Kakha Tsereteli, a lawyer for the hotel, the incident occurred around 13:00 on 14 July after Bakikhanov had successfully undergone an interview for a job at the hotel.
News of Bakikhanov’s death emerged only on 29 July after Azerbaijani dissidents Avtandil Mammadov and Afgan Mukhtarli posted about it on social media. They speculated that he may have been murdered by the Azerbaijani government.
Tsereteli said that an HR officer was taking Bakikhanov and other new employees on a tour of the hotel when they noticed he was no longer with the group.
‘They called him, asked him where he was, to which [Hussein] replied that he was on the roof of the building in the inner courtyard of Stamba’, he said.
‘The hotel’s HR officer and two security guards climbed to the roof, and when [Hussein] saw them, it was unfortunate, he jumped from the roof of the building in front of them.’
‘He was alone on the roof. When the hotel staff saw him, he said nothing, put his belongings on the ground and jumped.’
Tsereteli added that as far as they knew, he did not have any conflict with the hotel staff or anyone else at the hotel during the day.
Tsereteli said that there was CCTV footage of the incident which had been handed over to the Interior Ministry.
An Interior Ministry spokesperson told OC Media that they had opened an investigation into his death.
Bakikhanov, who mainly blogs about Islam, came to Georgia several months ago. In interviews with Azerbaijani media, he said he did so as he believed his life was in danger after he and other bloggers organised a protest in Baku on 7 May.
The protest in central Baku was calling for additional social payments to be issued due to the coronavirus pandemic and accompanying lockdown measures. Bakikhanov was detained by police during the demonstration.
In an interview with Obyektiv TV following the protest, he said police took him to a car and tortured him.
On 12 July, Bakhikhanov shared a video to his YouTube account from the back of an Ambulance claiming he had been beaten up by a group of Azerbaijanis in Tbilisi. He speculated that the attack may have been politically motivated.