Website Editor Challenges Ali Hasanov

Baku / 15.11.17 / Turan: The editor of the AzToday.az website Elmidar Aliyev published an open letter to the head of state Ilham Aliyev, in which he criticizes his assistant Ali Hasanov.

"The Azerbaijani press has been going through the most difficult period of its history last year. The cause of that is wrong actions and mercantile interests, betrayal of your political team, on the part of persons you trust. Thanks to these people, all your initiatives in the field of media do not achieve success," the appeal says.

Further in the appeal it is noted that since 2009, huge funds have been allocated for the development of the media, however in this field "there are no achievements and the prestige of the press in the society is steadily falling." The government funds allocated for this purpose "only resulted in the enrichment of a group of people," the appeal notes.

The Assistant to the President Ali Hasanov, the head of the State Fund for Press Support Vugar Safarli and the head of the Press Council Aflatun Amashov have created the status of "inviolable persons" for themselves.

"Today, journalists are allowed everything except the criticism of Ali Hasanov and his favorite cadres. So, in August this year the Prosecutor General"s Office issued a warning to our website for criticizing their "treacherous position." After that, based on the appeal of Vugar Safarli, our website was listed in the "black list" of the Press Council. A few days later, access to our website was blocked in Azerbaijan, and we were warned about the arrest, if we do not shut it down," the appeal says.

Further, the appeal refers to the alleged facts of misappropriation and embezzlement by Ali Hasanov during the construction of houses for journalists. In particular, Hasanov allegedly distributed money to firms and companies belonging to his close circle and relatives. "Ali Hasanov has distorted your initiative to allocate free housing to journalists, turning it into a purchase and sale of apartments," the statement says.

"We are forced to disclose all these facts, and we will go to court. This will cause international criticism and will damage the image of the head of state, but Ali Hasanov consciously sacrifices the image of the state for the sake of his personal interests," the editor writes.

As an example, he reports on facts of regular allocation of funds to websites and newspapers owned by Ali Hasanov and his entourage. For example, he says Vugar Safarli allocates 60,000 and 40,000 manat to his own newspapers Movge and Football + Goal twice a year. According to him, the newspapers Caspi and Caspian belonging to Ali Hasanov receive 60,000 manat twice a year (in general, 240,000 manat). But despite the allocation of such huge sums, the press of Azerbaijan seriously lags behind the press of the countries of the region, he says.

In Azerbaijan, there is still no influential international media, the appeal says. "The reason for this is, undoubtedly, the corruption interests of Ali Hasanov," the editor asserts. "It is thanks to this policy of Ali Hasanov that an unpopular method such as blocking websites began to be applied in Azerbaijan, which caused serious damage to the country's image," Elmidar Aliyev says.

"Dear Mr. President, we ask you to protect us and our website from Ali Hasanov, who does not know the boundaries and abuses his position," the appeal concludes. -02D-

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