The Interior Ministry said today it is probing the death of Azerbaijani blogger Huseyn Bakikhanov, an asylum-seeker in Georgia who died in suspicious circumstances on July 14 after falling several stories from the Stamba Hotel roof in downtown Tbilisi.
Reports about the death of Bakikhanov, known for vocal criticism of the Azerbaijani government, emerged only on July 29, two weeks after the incident. The Interior Ministry confirmed to Civil.ge the investigation is ongoing under Article 115 of the Criminal Code, involving incitement to suicide.
Kakha Tsereteli, the lawyer of Stamba Hotel, said the establishment had hired Bakikhanov on July 14. The blogger went up on the roof and committed suicide while receiving a tour of the premises, according to Tsereteli. The lawyer said there are eyewitnesses of the incident, and the hotel has also relayed security camera footage to the police.
Two days before dying, Bakikhanov said in a video recorded in an ambulance car that five persons had assaulted him in central Tbilisi. “I cannot say for sure that Azerbaijani Government organized the attack, but it cannot be ruled out,” he noted.
Bakikhanov argued that it “could not be coincidental” that the attack came only a few days before he was set to receive an asylum seeker’s identity card from Georgia. He was detained during a protest in Baku on May 7, allegedly tortured by the police, and jailed for two weeks, according to media reports. After his release, he left for Tbilisi.
Tbilisi-based civil society organization, Rights Georgia said today Bakikhanov requested on June 14 their assistance for receiving refuge in Georgia. The CSO added it cannot disclose the blogger’s reasoning for seeking asylum.
Another Azerbaijani journalist, Afgan Mukhtarli initially raised the alarm about Bakikhanov’s death on July 29. After the Interior Ministry reported the blogger had died two weeks ago, Mukhtarli accused Georgian law enforcement authorities of “hiding” the fact. “Georgian police, which officially discloses the smallest incidents, traffic incidents, remained silent about this,” he stressed.
Mukhtarli said he is not convinced by police and Stamba Hotel accounts, and raised suspicions over Bakikhanov’s death coming only two days after the alleged attack in the capital city streets.
Mukhtarli, himself an outspoken critic of the Azerbaijani Government, was abducted in Tbilisi in 2017 and passed to Baku authorities. Initially sentenced to six years in Baku prison, he was released in 2018 and currently lives in Germany. He has previously accused Georgian authorities of taking a bribe for his abduction, a claim that then-PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili denied as “absurd.”
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