STP Calls on Authorities to Stop Pressure on Newspaper Azadlig

Civil Society Platform (STP) urged the Azerbaijani authorities to stop the pressure on the independent newspaper Azadlig and to settle the debt by mutual settlements between the two state agencies - the publishing house Azerbaijan and the distribution company Gasid.

As is known, the newspaper owes 20,000 AZN to the publisher and Gasid’s debt to the newspaper reaches 70,000 AZN.

The Platform’s statement of February 25 noted that the debt problem can be solved exactly in this way, and otherwise, the government agencies’ actions will be regarded as an encroachment on freedom of speech and pressure on the press.

The statement pointed out that Azadlig, which was established in 1989 as the first independent newspaper in the country, is subject to regular harassment for its critical publications. The publishing house Azerbaijan once again threatens to stop the publication of the newspaper and have increased by 25% the cost of its services in the conditions of depreciation of manat twice.

Azadlig, as well as other newspapers, is deprived of freedom of distribution of its products. The market for sales of periodicals is monopolized by the state, while the sale in the subway and on the streets is banned.

The pursuit of Azadlig occurs in a large-scale pressure on the media and freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. It is significant that today there are 15 jailed journalists and bloggers in Azerbaijan. Kidnapping, illegal arrests, interrogations and intimidation of journalists by law enforcement officials is commonplace.

The activity of Radio Azadlig, Objective TV and Meydan TV has been restricted fully or partly.

* Civil Society Platform has been established by representatives of civil society to promote political and economic reforms in Azerbaijan with the aim of transition from authoritarianism to democracy. -0-

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