Azerbaijan: Local 'khan' in tights and internet ban

Patterned tights Patterned tights: Not in Nakhichevan

Opposition sources say the boss of a remote region of Azerbaijan is more interested in laying down the law about fashion than good governance.

Vasif Talibov has banned women civil servants from wearing patterned tights in Nakhichevan - which is cut off from the rest of the country by Armenian territory. Teachers say he has also ordered them not to dye their hair blonde or wear short skirts.

The press in the Azeri capital often mocks apparently odd instructions by "Talibov Khan", including a ban on hanging washing on balconies or late-night parties, but access to Nakhichevan itself is extremely difficult for reporters.

Now, Azadliq newspaper reports more sinister restrictions in the "North Korea of Azerbaijan", which Talibov has run since 1993. Its sources say he has recently shut down internet clubs - although officials deny this - and even closed cafes as part of a ban on gatherings ahead of next month's presidential elections.

Azerbaijan's ruling Aliyev family hails from Nakhichevan, and Talibov is reported to be related to them by marriage.

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