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RWB: Azerbaijani President and Supreme Council President of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic included in 'press predators' list

On World Press Freedom Day, Reporters Without Borders is releasing an updated list of 39 Predators of Freedom of Information – presidents, politicians, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that censor, imprison, kidnap, torture and kill journalists and other news providers. The names of the Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev and Vasif Talibov, Supreme Council President of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan also stand in that list.


“These predators of freedom of information are responsible for the worst abuses against the news media and journalists,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.


He also noted that the predators are becoming more and more effective. In 2012, the level of violence against news providers was unprecedented and a record number of journalists were killed.


To show how some predators really think, Reporters Without Borders have presented their innermost thoughts in the first person. “We had to use a little imagination, of course, but the facts alluded to conform to reality,” the article reads.


Thus Aliyev’s thoughts are presented in the article, “Death threats, kidnappings – my thugs stop at nothing. But that doesn’t prevent us from sometimes acting with tact. With the help of sex tapes and rumours, smear campaigns are often enough to bring our opponents to heel. Directly or indirectly, I control all the TV stations. We have banned the BBC, Radio Free Europe and Voice of America from FM broadcasting in Azerbaijan since 2009 because they were trying to make trouble. My men have hounded the opposition press so much that there’s little left – just enough for us to be able to tell the outside world that Azerbaijan is a democracy… The street protests in the spring of 2011, prompted by the Arab Spring, gave me a scare. I had the leading opposition bloggers arrested but the rumblings continue. It’s a pity because now we are getting ready for a new election, a presidential one in October, so do you imagine I’m going to let people do as they wish? That wouldn’t be worthy of an Aliyev. Last January, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe tried to pass a resolution “on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan.” We got our way. It was rejected. Obviously. What were they thinking? Business is too important. There was too much at stake for me to let the troublemakers talk. Fortunately, Dad taught me how to make dissidents shut up.”


Thoughts of Vasif Talibov, Supreme Council President of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan are also presented in the article: “President Ilham Aliyev and I have always been fantastic accomplices. My friend, the president, gives me carte blanche to rule as I wish in the isolated region of Nakhchivan and I use my fiefdom as a laboratory for the repressive methods that he then applies in the rest of the country. I have acquitted my duties so well that he awarded me the “medal of glory” in 2010. Separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by a strip of Armenian territory, the autonomous republic of Nakhchivan is often described by commentators as “Azerbaijan’s North Korea.” I think they exaggerate. If I concentrate all power in my hands, it’s because our parliamentarians have really wanted to reelect me every five years since 1995. To please my friends, I appoint ministers, promulgate laws, control the justice system and run the all-powerful security agencies. But politics bore me. To reimburse myself for all my sacrifices, I am obliged to monopolize the region’s most profitable business activities… After all, I’ve acquired some very good experience for my dictator’s CV in the course of more than 15 years in office. The local media no longer tell me anything I don’t want to hear. One of Nakhchivan’s two TV stations is state-owned and my brother owns the other. I just need to find a way to stop people watching Turkish satellite TV stations. In other words, no independent media in my region. The opposition newspapers printed in Baku do not reach Nakhchivan.”


A handful of fanatics nonetheless persist in talking about corruption, human violations and use of torture. What cheek! They are asking for a good hiding and that’s what we give them.”


The head of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev is in the "press predator" group since 2006, and it is the second year that Vasif Talybov is in the list.



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