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Nakhchivan Penitentiary Service chief detained on embezzlement charges

2 February 2023
Tofig Hasanov, Nakhchivan's Chief of the Penitentiary Service. Image via apa.az.

The Chief of Nakhchivan’s Penitentiary Service is the latest senior figure in the autonomous republic to be detained on charges of embezzlement and bribery.

A Baku court remanded Tofig Hasanov to four months of pre-trial detention on 27 January. Hasanov could face up to 12 years in prison if proven guilty.

No details were released on the amount of funds he had allegedly embezzled or accepted in bribes.

Hasanov’s arrest is the latest in an apparent crackdown by Azerbaijani authorities in Nakhchivan, leading to further speculation that Baku may be trying to bring the highly autonomous exclave under its direct control.

Late last year, several senior officials were arrested, including the autonomous republic’s Minister of Finance, Rafael Aliyev, also on charges of embezzlement.

Vasif Talibov, who ruled over Nakhchivan for 27 years as chair of the autonomous republic’s Supreme Assembly, also resigned shortly after these high profile arrests.

On 22 December, President Ilham Aliyev appointed Fuad Najafli as his special representative in the exclave.

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[Listen to the Caucasus Digest: HIV in Georgia and Nakhchivan’s diminishing autonomy]

On 1 February, Azerbaijani authorities reopened the land border with Turkey from Nakchivan after a closure of almost six months. According to Azerbaijani border authorities, residents of the exclave are only allowed to cross into Turkey with their own private vehicles.

Despite these restrictions, the border crossing between Nakhchivan and Turkey is the only Azerbaijani land border open for travel.

Read in Armenian on CivilNet