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Azeri President Fires Another Governor in Move to Ease Tensions

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev fired a second regional governor in two days as he moved to ease public discontent after the energy-rich Caspian Sea nation was hit by riots last month.

Asif Mammadov was dismissed as governor of the Samaxi District, 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Baku, the capital, according to a presidential decree published today by the state news agency Azartac. No reason was given for the move.

Aliyev yesterday dismissed Nizami Alakbarov, governor of the northwestern Ismayilli District, which saw two days of unrest in January. Dozens were arrested after Ismayilli residents set fire to Alakbarov’s house and a hotel and luxury cars owned by his nephew, who allegedly beat a taxi driver and insulted locals. Alakbarov denied the accusations against his nephew, who’s also a son of Labor and Social Protection Minister Fizuli Alakbarov.

President Aliyev said he’d fire officials and arrest their “obnoxious” relatives in comments broadcast on state TV channel AzTV on Jan. 12. He promised to step up the fight against corruption, which he described as a “big malady.”

The third-largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International, which tied Azerbaijan at 143rd with countries including Belarus, Russia, Nigeria and Uganda in its Corruption Perceptions Index.

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