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Azerbaijan Obliges Foreign NGOs to Pick Locals as Deputy Heads

Azerbaijan’s parliament, Milli Maclis, toughened rules for non-governmental organizations, requiring foreign citizens to select locals as their deputies.

The amended bill, which was passed by lawmakers and now goes to President Ilham Aliyev, will also require such groups to explain to the authorities how they disposed of property in the event they closed and prohibits them from conducting “professional religious activity,” according to a statement.

The Caspian Sea nation, the largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia and Kazakhstan, is ranked as having among the world’s most corrupt and repressive governments by Transparency International and Reporters Without Borders.

The government under Aliyev, who won a third term in disputed presidential elections in October, has been wary of pro-democracy groups funded by the West. In April it closed the Free Thought University, a project partly funded by the U.S. and U.K. to promote democracy and human rights.

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