The leading opposition newspaper of the country, “Azadlig”, appealed for support from the public in connection with the recent court fines that may lead to the closure of the newspaper.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Acting Editor of the newspaper, Rahim Hajiyev said that high judicial authorities are trying to stifle the newspaper for a principled and consistent criticism of the authorities.
Under the total control of the media, the authorities are concerned about the growing popularity of the newspaper, especially its online version, where the number of readers exceeds 200,000.
According to Arif Aliyev, the chairman of journalistic organization “Yeni Nesil”, court fines against “Azadlig”, and restrictions to be applied on the Internet relate to the upcoming presidential elections and the growing activity of the society.
On February 15 the Supreme Court upheld the verdict obliging the newspaper to pay the head of the Baku Metro, Tagi Akhmedov, a fine of 30,000 manat.
On February 19, the Appellation Court upheld the decision to pay 32,000 manat to the owner of the Trade Center “Bina”, Kabira Mamedova.
Director of Media Rights Institute, Rashid Hajili, regarded these solutions on astronomical fines as unfair and illegal, calling it part of a plan to close the newspaper.
Observers believe that the pressure on “Azadlig” is growing also because the newspaper is supporting satellite channel media.tv, headed by former editor, Ganimat Zahid. Opposition channel broadcasts from Turkey twice a week and only for an hour a day, but is highly popular in Azerbaijan.
At the press conference, with participation of the heads of journalists and human rights organizations, were made various initiatives aimed at protecting the newspaper. It is planned to take soon a number of steps to repel the attacks of the authorities to freedom of speech (contact.az).