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Two Azerbaijani mobile operator simultaneously suspend free access to Facebook

In Azerbaijan, since May 3, two mobile operators - the Azercell and the Bakcell - stopped, at the same time, providing free-of-charge services to subscribers of social networks on the Internet. The decision was explained by technical reasons; however, civil society activists and individual Internet users see a political subtext in it - the restriction on the access to the Facebook was introduced on the threshold of the presidential election upcoming in October 2013.


The Azercell has posted an announcement on its website that since May 3 the service "" and the "Free Mobile Twitter" "are suspended in connection with the work aimed to improve the functionality and overcome technical difficulties."


The Azercell has provided no information about how long the free access to Facebook and the Twitter would be suspended.


On May 3, the Bakcell also announced the temporary suspension of the free service "", citing "technical problems."


"In recent years the company has invested a lot into expansion and modernization; and it is ongoing," the Bakcell told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, without excluding the resumption of free access to the Facebook.


Let us note here that in total three mobile operators work in Azerbaijan. The AzerFon does not provide free access to the Facebook and other social networks on the Internet.


The Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that mobile operators are commercial entities; and the state regulator cannot intervene into the scope of their rendered services.


Political and civil society activists in Azerbaijan doubt about the technical reasons for restricting the free access to social networks through mobile communication.


"Should mobile operators fail in a short time to finalize the technical improvements and restore the free access to social networks, it will indicate that the issue is not about technical problems, but about political motives of the restriction," Natig Djafarli, the executive director of the public movement "Republican Alternative" (ReAl), said in his interview to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.


"Suspicions about the suspension of the free access to social networks for political reasons are amplified by the fact that both operators had made this decision at the same time," said Djafarli.


According to his story, several protest actions organized by young people through social networks earlier this year have caused concern among the authorities of Azerbaijan; and they try by all means to restrict access to the Facebook.


Caucasian Knot


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