Baku residents angered by possible closure of city centre for Europa League final
Traffic on the central streets of Baku may be restricted from May 25 – May 31 because of the final match of the UEFA Europa League which will be held in Baku on May 29, Ona.az reports.
Bakuvians have reacted strongly to the news – moreover, ‘restriction of traffic’ is not specifically defined. The Ministry of the Interior denies the ‘rumour.’
English football clubs Chelsea and Arsenal will face off in the Europa League final which will take place at the Baku Olympic stadium.
During this period, more than 20,000 foreign fans are expected to come to Azerbaijan.
In order to avoid crowds and ensure safety, the movement of citizens on the central pedestrian zone, Fountain Square and Nizami Street, will be limited, says ona.az.
Because ona.az is considered to have sources amongst government officially, many in Azerbaijan believe the information to be credible, despite that several other sites have published a rebuttal from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
On social media sites, this has given rise to controversy, outrage and black humour:
“How is it possible? And if I live there? What now, should I not go out?”
“Then let the whole city be surrounded by a fence and, in general, we should not be allowed into it.”
“We heard that the Ministry of the Interior had already given a rebuttal. Probably afraid of the reaction of the people. Well, or they just felt [how much mail they are getting] and realized that they were going too far.”
And what about the Day of Independence?
During the same period, Azerbaijan will be celebrating independence day – the day when in 1918, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic Wass formed.
Traditionally on May 28, politicians, activists and ordinary citizens lay flowers to the obelisk established in honor of this event in the city center, on Istiqlalliyet avenue. But this year this avenue has also fallen under the supposed “pre-final limitation.”
The leader of the opposition Republican Alternative party Ilgar Mammadov says that this is just a reason not to allow the opposition to hold a procession on the day.
On his Facebook page, Mammadov called it a “disgrace” and even shamed the UEFA for what it is “covering” for the authorities of Azerbaijan.