OSCE observers critical of Azerbaijani elections met with spirited protest
A press conference was held on the results of the recent presidential elections in Azerbaijan which came to an abrupt halt after a group of pro-governmental journalists behaved in an aggressive manner. The conference was held by observers from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the parliamentary assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
In their preliminary report, the observers noted a number of violations during the voting process.
“The snap presidential elections in Azerbaijan took place in an atmosphere of limited rights and freedoms, [not in an atmosphere] which is necessary for a genuinely democratic election campaign,” the reports said.
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The statement elicited an aggressive reaction and harsh protest from several editors of pro-governmental media publications.
They demanded that members of the ODIHR change their report. One of the editors said that the mission’s report was ‘an insult to the Azerbaijani nation, written on the orders of anti-Azerbaijani forces and far from reality’.
Some of the protesters even used vulgarities while addressing the representatives of the mission.
In response, the OSCE observers stopped the press conference and left the hall.
An hour and a half later, after receiving a guarantee that order would be observed in the auditorium, the representatives of the mission returned and completed the press conference.
After quickly bringing the conference to an end, they added that the results of the monitoring mission were available in printed format and any and all journalists were welcome to acquaint themselves with the report.
The critical report by the European observers was met with indignation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan as well.
The ministry demanded that the ODIHR, OSCE and PACE present proof of the ‘violations’ which supposedly took place during the presidential elections in the country.
“Today, representatives of the observation mission were received at the Foreign Ministry where they heard strong protest from Azerbaijan,” the Foreign Ministry’s statement reads.