Azerbaijan Closes University Promoting Democracy

BAKU -- Azerbaijan has suspended the operations of a university set up to promote democratic values.

Azad Fikir University (Free Thought University) representatives told RFE/RL that officials from the Prosecutor-General's Office showed up unexpectedly on April 10 and sealed its offices in Baku without giving any explanation.

The prosecutor-general's spokesman told the BBC that the reasons behind the closure will be clarified following a preliminary investigation.

AFU officials announced via Facebook that all lectures have been postponed.

U.S. Ambassador Richard Morningstar told AFU representatives he was disappointed at the university's closure. He also expressed concerns over the situation faced by Azerbaijani youth movements and organizations in general.

The AFU project was launched in 2009 by the OL! (BE!) youth movement. Its stated mission is to educate Azerbaijanis about democratic values through interactive lectures and roundtable discussions.

The institution has been supported by the U.S. and British embassies in Baku, USAID, and other international organizations.