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AZERBAIJAN COURT REJECTS RFE/RL’S APPEAL AGAINST WEBSITE BLOCKAGE

The Azeri Times

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Originally published by RFE/RL

A court in Baku has rejected an appeal by RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service against the blockage of its website, azadliq.org, backing a move that has been condemned by rights groups and Western governments.

The Baku Cassation Court ruled on June 4 that the Communications and High Technologies Ministry’s decision to cut off access to the site was correct and therefore should not be changed.

Azadliq.org has been blocked in Azerbaijan since March 2017 at the instruction of the Prosecutor-General’s Office, which has claimed that the website posed a “threat” to the Caspian Sea country’s national security.

RFE/RL President Thomas Kent said on May 12 that blockage of the site was “part of a deliberate campaign” aimed at silencing its reporting in the tightly controlled country, whose long-ruling president tolerates little dissent.

After hearings in a lawsuit filed by RFE/RL against the move began on April 27, a court ruled on May 12 that the Communications Ministry’s request for the blockage must be followed. The new ruling came in an appeal against that decision.

The ruling also affected opposition newspaper Azadliq and Meydan TV, as well as two other Internet TV programs.

The ministry has accused azadliq.org and the other outlets of “posting content deemed to promote violence, hatred, or extremism, violating privacy, or constituting slander,” but did not produce any examples to back up its accusations.

The only remaining legal recourse for the media outlets now is to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The website of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service has been blocked since March 2017
The website of RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service has been blocked since March 2017.

The decision to block the media outlets has been condemned by the European Union. The move was “not in keeping with the need for free, diverse, and independent media in modern and democratic societies,” Maja Kocijancic, the spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, said in a statement on May 14.

The U.S.-based democracy monitor Freedom House also criticized the court’s decision.

“By banning independent media websites, the Azerbaijani government has disproved President Ilham Aliyev’s most frequently used argument that Azerbaijan enjoys freedom on the Internet,” said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs at Freedom House, in a May 12 statement.

Azadliq.org has been targeted by Azerbaijani authorities after RFE/RL published investigative reports about financial dealings involving members of Aliyev’s family and his inner circle.

The reports were the result of cooperation between RFE/RL and the Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

Aliyev, 56, has ruled the oil-producing former Soviet republic with an iron hand since shortly before the death of his father, Heidar Aliyev, died in 2003 after a decade in power.

He has repeatedly rejected criticism from rights groups and Western governments that accuse him of jailing his opponents on trumped-up accusations and abusing power to stifle dissent.

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Economics

Premium Gas prices hit two-year high in Azerbaijan

The Azeri Times

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In Azerbaijan, on the evening of August 19, petrol Premium Euro-95 and Super Euro-98 became more expensive. At petrol stations of the country on Sunday evening, petrol Premium Euro-95 was sold at 1.50 manat, and Super Euro-98 – at 1.60 manat.

Prior to the increase, the price of these brands was 1.25 and 1.5 manat, respectively.

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Azerbaijan

New Mercedes Police Cars for Azerbaijani Police

The Azeri Times

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Dozens of new Mercedes C-class cars have been purchased for the traffic police of Azerbaijan.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class will possibly replace BMW 3 series Police vehicles.  These cars were first brought to Baku in November last year and were tested by police. It turns out that after the tests, the State Traffic Police decided to buy a large number of these cars.

The news already had a public outcry. Many Baku citizens complain that this is a clear sign of Corruption in the Government. They also complain that Police will possibly pay for these cars via increased traffic tickets and bribery through traffic police.

 

 

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Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan population comes close to 10 million

The Azeri Times

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Azerbaijan’s population reached 9,936,134 as of July 1, according to the State Statistical Committee, Azerbaijan State News Agency informs.

Official figures show that the number of the country’s population grew by 38,049 people since the beginning of the year.

The population density is 115 people per square kilometre, the committee said.

According to official figures, 52.9 per cent of the population lives in cities and towns, while 47.1 per cent in villages. 49.9 per cent of the population are men, and 50.1 per cent are women, according to the committee.

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