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Baku - A televised presidential debate in Azerbaijan turned ugly when one of the nine participants hurled a bottle of water at the main opposition candidate after he criticised strongman President Ilham Aliyev.
Presidential candidate Hafiz Haciyev of the Modern Musavat party - widely seen as a pro-government satellite party - stood up and threw the plastic bottle at opposition challenger Jamil Hasanli as the latter accused Aliyev of massive corruption during the debate on Thursday evening.
“I am going to destroy you,” Haciyev screamed at Hasanli, before being escorted off the set.
The bottle bounced off a table and failed to hit Hasanli, who also left the studio prematurely shortly after the incident.
Aliyev - who took over in 2003 after the death of his father Heydar, a former KGB officer and Communist-era boss - did not attend the debate, instead sending a representative to read out a statement.
He looks certain to win a third term during the October 9 polls, despite most of the country's fragmented opposition rallying around Hasanli as its single candidate for the polls.
Any display of public discontent or political dissent usually meets a tough reaction in the oil-rich ex-Soviet state.
Human rights groups have recently accused the authorities of stepping up a campaign to stifle opposition and muzzle criticism in the run-up to the election. - AFP