Spontaneous protests erupted in several regions of Azerbaijan in January 2016 amid sharp rise of food prices, especially price of flour caused by the second devaluation ofcurrency. One of these protests took place in Siyazan, a town located 100 km from Baku, on 12th and 13 th January when local residents gathered in front of the building of the executive power expressing their protests with regards to price hikes and social problems.
The official statement about the event was not any different to previous statement of authorities. The official statement claimed that protestors committed violence, resisted police and posed threat to police’s lives and safety. In reality, authorities had gathered special police units and internal troops to the town even before the protest took place, and police forces greatly outnumbered protestors. Video footage from the place of protests shows no sign of violence committed by protestors. Police detained protestors and dispersed participants using force. During the subsequent court trials, the court did not consider any video footage as evidence.
Several of arrested protestors were later charged with drug possession and illegal firearm possession, charges often used in politically-motivated cases.
On 28 March 2017, the Guba district court (judge Elman Ahmadov) sentenced Muslum Azimov to six years, Zaur Shakarov to six years, Elchin Aliyev to five years, Talib Aghamaliyev to five years, Kamran Abdullayev to five years, Nizami Ganiyev to five years, Joshgun Baghishov to four years, Fariz Karimov to four years, Namig Mastanov to four years, Abasat Suleymanov to four years and Aydin Safarli to two years loss’ of liberty.
The Sumgait Appeal Court (judge Nazim Movsumov) on 28 December 2017 reduced the sentences of: Zaur Shakarov, Kamran Abdullayev, Elchin Aliyev and Nizami Ganiyev to 4 years; that of Muslum Azimov to 5 years, and the four-year sentences of Fariz Karimov, Namig Mastanov, Abasat Suleymanov and Joshgun Baghishov to 3 years 6 months. The sentences of Aghamaliyev and Safarli remained unchanged.