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Azerbaijani Government continues pressuring Media

Pressuring the organization started immediately after the presidential elections – say employees of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS).

Presidential elections in Azerbaijan were held on 9 October 2013. General Prosecutor for Serious Crimes Investigation Department started investigation for EMDS office.

On October 27th, the Major Crimes Department of the Prosecutor General's Office launched investigation about this organization, questioned their senior staff. According to EMDS’ website on October 31, search was conducted at the office of organization and various documents, including financial and programmer files, also two computers were confiscated. 

Chairman of EMDS AnarMamadli told to Radio Liberty (Azerbaijan) that this investigation is related to their projects which they have done during presidential elections. “There is a misunderstanding, usually Ministry of Taxes leads this kind of investigation, but now situation is different. I can’t give more detailed information because of investigation secret. I am still expecting their answer”, - Mammadli said.

On November 25, Major Crimes Investigation Department of the General Prosecutor’s Office informed AnarMamadli that he can’t leave the country and this ban will last at least until the end of the investigation.At the same time General Prosecutor’s Office has already sent this information to all border crossing points of the country regarding restriction of his freedom of movement. Mammadli added that he and ten leaders of different NGO’s were invited to participate in Eastern Partnership Vilnius summit on the 27thNovember. “So I couldn't participate in this important event because of General Prosecutor’s Office’s decision”, – he wrote on his Facebook page.

To get official answer about this case our editorial sent online enquiry to GPSCID to get official response about why they started investigation at EMDS office. One question was about that if there is any political reason or not. Unfortunately GPSCID has not answered to our questions yet.

But the Crimes Department of the Prosecutor General's Office’s stated to “Trend” news agency: "Related with violation of law in Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center, department of the GPSCID launched an investigation”. They announced that organization will inform society about the result of this investigation.

On the other hand the representatives of Ministry of Taxes conducted search in "Ganun" publishing house, which had prınted election materials of oppositions candidate, banners.  They confiscated equipment and computers of the company, as Ganun employees stated – the operation was conductedwith violations. Director of publishing house ShahbazKhuduoglu said to newscafe.ge that 20 people from Ministry of Taxes came to their office and locked all doors and conducted search.Meanwhile no one could enter the publishing house. “They took all documents, contract-papers of customers and partners, papers about our budget and computers. They didn’t say a word. They didn’t have right to do that to us”, - Khuduogly said.

He said that during presidential election only this publishing house agreed to publish opposition candidate CamailHasanli’s posters and brochures. “Some people say that it may be reason of attack to publishing house. But I am not political person. I published poster because it is just my business interest”, - Khuduoglu said.

He stated that they would fight to protect their rights: “I’ve already sent a letter to the PresidentIlhamAliyev and waiting for answer from him”.

Our editorial team also sent online enquiry to Ministry of Taxes of Azerbaijan Republic to get information about the reason of this investigation. But they didn’t answer their letter as well. But head of the Analytical Information Department Ministry of Taxes Mehdi Mirsalimov told to BBC-Azerbaijan that "in order to investigate the status of compliance with the requirements of the tax legislation is underway”.

The Azerbaijan government undertook measures to restrict functioning of "Azadliq" and "YeniMusavat" newspapers, banned their selling in metro-stations and booths. Goverment didn’t give any explanation. The head of metropolitenTagiAhmedov onlyexplained to journalists that “order to ban newspapers selling in metro station came from “above”.

On November 24, IlhamAliyev has been announced “Friend of Journalists” as a result of a poll conducted by “RUH” Committee to Protect Journalists among the representatives of the media. During the celebration ceremony president met with editors fromboth opposition and pro-government media.During the meeting president Aliyev spoke about media reforms carried out in the country. Aliyev said that there are democratic values, freedom of speech and free media in Azerbaijan. “We have free media in Azerbaijan and we are interested in its further development”, - said Aliyev.

After this meeting the government allowed to sell opposition newspapersat kiosks.Butthe government banned selling any newspapers in the metro.

 

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