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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Azeri Radio Curbs Raise Concerns

BAKU, Azerbaijan — A leading European human rights body has expressed concern at proposals in Azerbaijan to halt foreign radio broadcasts.

Visiting Baku, Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis said he was "surprised" by the proposals, which if adopted would take effect Jan. 1.

It would likely affect the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. There is no independent local broadcaster in Azerbaijan.

"The government of Azerbaijan should realize that freedom of expression is one of the most important European values," Davis said at a news conference Tuesday.

Davis said he would discuss the issue with Azeri officials.

In October, the head of Azerbaijan's National Television and Radio Council, Nushiravan Magerramli, said that according to the law foreign radio stations would have to stop broadcasting on local frequencies.

Magerramli said a final decision had yet to be made but that foreign radio stations would be able to continue broadcasting via the Internet, satellite and cable. Licenses for foreign radio stations to broadcast on local frequencies would not be renewed as of the end of the year, and further steps would depend on their compliance.

The opposition says the proposed move was another attempt to stifle criticism of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, who won re-election in a landslide victory in October.