The Curious Case of Afgan Mukhtarli

MIN READNov 19, 2017 | 15:57 GMT

Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani activist and journalist living in Georgia, has been detained in Azerbaijan since May under mysterious circumstances.

Bordering Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey, Georgia has long been considered a shining example in a troubled and volatile region. But as political analyst Ghia Nodia warns, "being surrounded by undemocratic neighbors decreases the chance of successful democracy-building. Georgia appears doomed to be a regional beacon of democracy, but there is neither political will nor sufficient domestic international pressure for it to pursue any consistent policy of democratic reforms and human rights protection."


At around 7 p.m. on May 29, Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani activist and journalist living in self-imposed exile in Tbilisi, rang his wife, Leyla Mustafayeva. Mukhtarli said he was on his way home after meeting a friend at a cafe in the Georgian capital. He never showed up. The next day, although his passport remained in Tbilisi, updates on social media reported that Mukhtarli was instead in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he faced charges for resisting arrest, illegally crossing the border and smuggling 10,000 euros ($11,663) into the country. Alarm bells rang among other Azerbaijani activists and journalists who had come to call Tbilisi home. Earlier the same month in Baku, Eynulla Fatullayev, a former prisoner of conscience now known to critics as a "government attack dog," had published an editorial on the Azerbaijani dissident community living in Georgia, alleging that it was planning to overthrow Azerbaijan's president. The piece mentioned Mukhtarli's...

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