Foreign Policy Blogs

Jabbar Savalan released from prison!

Jabbar Savalan (credit: Turkhan Karimov)

News out of Baku courtesy of Radio Free Europe and the viral Azerbaijan rumor mill is that Jabbar Savalan was released from prison today (26 December) in a general amnesty granted by President Aliyev. As noted earlier on this blog, clemencies for political prisoners are not uncommon, and usually take place to coincide with some national holiday or festival such as the Novruz celebration in the Spring. This amnesty affected roughly 90 convicts, I am told, although evidently Jabbar was the only political prisoner to enjoy a clemency.

I’ll try to get an interview in the coming days, although talking to the foreign press might be something Jabbar is reluctant to do, given the sensitive nature of his trial and conviction.

The raft of Facebook activists and opposition party figures arrested and sentenced to prison terms this year has damaged Azerbaijan’s international image and we may well see further amnesties granted prior to the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, due to be held in Baku in May.



Karl Rahder
Karl Rahder

Karl Rahder has written on the South Caucasus for ISN Security Watch and ISN Insights (, news and global affairs sites run by the Swiss government. Karl splits his time between the US and the former USSR - mostly the Caucasus and Ukraine, sometimes teaching international relations at universities (in Chicago, Baku, Tbilisi) or working on stories for ISN and other publications. Karl received his MA from the University of Chicago, and first came to the Caucasus in 2004 while on a CEP Visiting Faculty Fellowship. He's reported from the Caucasus on topics such as attempted coups, sedition trials, freedom of the press, and the frozen Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. For many years, Karl has also served as an on-call election observer for the OSCE, and in 2010, he worked as a long-term observer in Afghanistan for Democracy International.

Great Decisions Discussion group