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Sunday, October 23, 2005

New High Level Arrest in Azerbaijan: Report

BAKU, Oct 22 (AFP) - A fourth high profile figure in Azerbaijan has been arrested, a local television station reported Saturday, amidst heightening political tensions two weeks ahead of a key parliamentary vote. "Dismissed from his post two days ago, Chief of Presidential Affairs Akif Muradverdiyev was arrested," the private ATV channel said in an evening news bulletin citing unnamed police officials. No reasons for the detention were provided and the report could not immediately be confirmed. Muradverdiyev's reported arrest follows the arrests of former economic development minister Farkhad Aliyev, his wealthy brother Rafik Aliyev and former Health Minister Ali Insanov. The three men face charges linking them to an alleged plot backing an attempt by the opposition to "violently" overthrow the regime, officials have said. However analysts have said the arrests have less to do with a coup attempt than internal rivalries in ruling circles. President Ilham Aliyev, who is facing mounting Western criticism that his government's preparations for the November 6 elections are undemocratic, dismissed both ministers earlier this week

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