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The leader of the PACE delegation of the Riigikogu Andres Herkel is staying in Azerbaijan this week, in order to meet human rights protectors, journalists, political prisoners, and representatives of the opposition and government, in connection with the report prepared by summer. At the end of the four-day visit, meetings with the President of the Parliament, the Head of Administration to President, and President Ilham Aliyev are scheduled for Thursday afternoon. 

Together with Herkel, Joseph Debono Grech, Member of the Parliament of Malta with a 42-year experience in politics who has been the Minister of Agriculture as well as the Minister of Transport in his country, is participating as a co-rapporteur in such mission for the first time. Yesterday, Herkel and Debono Grech met in prison youth activists Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade who are more widely known as the so-called imprisoned bloggers. The young men were imprisoned last summer and they have been sentenced for two and a half year and two years, respectively, on the charge of hooliganism. The judgment has been appealed. 

In Herkel’s words, the charges are very obviously a fabrication and the case has attracted wide attention in the world exactly because, earlier, often classical journalists have been detained but Milli and Hajizade are clearly representatives of the new media. One of them kept a video blog and the other involved people in his activities mainly through Facebook. 

Today, Herkel and Debono Grech are continuing meetings in Gandja (Kirovobad in Soviet times) which is the second largest city of the country and a former capital.