"Azadlig" - the flagship of the independent press marks 23rd anniversary

Today the first independent newspaper in the country, "Azadlig", celebrates its 23-th anniversary. The first issue under the guidance of the editor, one of the founders of the People's Front of Azerbaijan, Najaf Najafov, was  released on  December 24, 1989.

In the days of one-party dominance of an alternative opinion was a breath of fresh air, and therefore  the newspaper's circulation was unthinkable today, 200,000 copies. The newspaper has played a huge role in the national liberation movement and the establishment of an independent Azerbaijan.

During perestroika free press was to be not only an ideological mouthpiece, but also a separate area of ​​successful entrepreneurship. However, time has not met the expectations of the public.

Communist Party of Azerbaijan, and the next leaders of the country were doing their best to hold down the mouth of community. Including the abolition of censorship in August 1998,  every day there were “clarifications” with the newspaper every night  in the “Glavlit.” After that, courts of all instances joined the  case, applying penalties, which by ten time increase the annual  budget  of "Azadlig". Many times, the authorities tried to defame guide edition, using the campaign of harassment by public participation.

The editor, Rahim Hajibeyli, says that today the real circulation of  editions  is 6000, and it shows the attitude of the authorities to the media.

According to the monitoring in 1998, 15% of publications belonging to government officials, 13% - of the political opposition, the remaining 72% were independent. Today there is no need to monitor and study, there are only two or three  opposition newspaper in  the media market, one news agency and several Internet publications. All of the remaining 95% is owned or paid by government agencies.

On November 5 this year, the court arrested the bank account of the newspaper, which is equivalent to termination of its activities. The  reason for the arrest  of accounts became three judgments of the fines of  state officials, who criticized the newspaper. Total fines amounted to 66,000 manat. "This is a new stage of suffocation of  the newspaper on the eve of the October 2013 presidential election. The fact that the state distribution company GASID refuses to pay the debt in  35,000 manats, referring to the closure of its kiosks by the  head of the city, and the state publishing house "Azerbaijan" newspaper refuses to print  the newspaper because of a debt, testifies that it is a state order," says the editor.  

Chief Editor  of the newspaper, Ganimat Zahid, who was imprisoned on trumped up charges, as well as a number of staff publications, emigrated.

"Azadliq" is a vivid example of the policy of imitation of democratic progress. This edition does not have even the minimum of advertising, its street distributors  are pursue, vendors will hide it away from customers. Journalists, as well as members of their families,  are openly intimidated, leading sometimes threats into execution.

However, in October, the 5000th issue of "Azadlig" was published, which means that it is in demand and has a chance to relive their stranglers. -17D— 


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