AZERI OPPOSITION CANCELS PROTEST RALLY

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BAKU, April 9 (RIA Novosti) -Participants of the rally staged in memory of Elmar Guseinov, the editor-in-chief of the Monitor magazine, accused the authorities with incompetence due to the law-enforcers' failure to find the assassins of the renowned journalist.

The rally, with protesters carrying posters `No to Terror` and `Find Assassins of Elmar Guseinov`, lasted for about one hour. Different sources estimated attendance at 200 to 500 people.

The journalists speaking at the rally lay the blame for assassination of Guseinov on the authorities. Some of the speakers called for staging mass protests across the country to topple the current government.

After the rally, its participants went to the Baku cemetery to visit Guseinov's grave.

Guseinov was gunned down in the evening of March 2, 2005.

An issue of the Bakinskiye Vedomosti newspaper published by the Monitor journalists came off the print Saturday for the first time after a long interval. The newspaper's founder, Rovshana Guseinova (Elmar Guseinov's widow) told reporters that the publication would carry on with the line pursued by the opposition's Monitor magazine.

Rovshana Guseinova also expressed her opinion that in the case of the Monitor editor-in-chief's assassination the Azeri authorities are seeking to shift responsibility and "lay the blame on some other country".

"They have named Georgians, Chechens, Americans, Russians, and practically all other countries that might, for some unaccountable reason, have been interested in assassination of Elmar Guseinov," the late journalist's widow pointed out.

In the meantime, the Azeri opposition forces have canceled their mass protest rally scheduled for April 10. The decision was made by three opposition political parties that had earlier joined forces to make a joint bloc for participation in the November 2005 parliamentary election in the country - the Popular Front of Azerbaijan, Musavat and the Democratic Party.

A spokesperson for the Musavat party said that the decision to cancel the rally was taken because the Baku City Hall had refused to authorize the event.

The bloc leaders will shortly meet to agree the new date for the rally.

The planned rally was to be held primarily with the purpose of pressing the authorities to step up efforts aimed at finding and punishing those who had ordered the murder of Monitor's editor-in-chief Elmar Guseinov, to halt persecution of independent press, to adopt more democratic electoral legislation and to create conditions for truly democratic elections.

The rally organizers also intended to demand that the authorities pursue a more effective anti-corruption policy and put an end to unemployment in the country.

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