President Ilham Aliyev still continues to feel hostile to itself the independent mass media , the destruction of which under his rule that began in 2003, has led to a loss of quality press and the emergence of such a phenomenon as the media racketeering and palace nightingales.
At a meeting with foreign participants of the World Congress of News Agencies on November 16 Aliyev with irritation denied the absence of pressure on the media and censorship of the Internet, accusing the West of double standards in the issue of freedom of expression. He also went on to say about the full media freedom in Azerbaijan.
Just two days later only one event has refuted the statement of President on the Freedom of the Media. On November 18 independent civil society discussed the strategically important for the country question - Budget-2017, which under the deepening economic crisis still has not been presented to the public. No broadcasting company, nor the numerous government and pro-government media cover this event boycotted it. This fact clearly demonstrates the complete media handling on the part of the President's Administration, which exercises political control and other means of mass communication.
Speaking about the case Asandzh as an example of undemocratic opponent persecution Aliyev contradicted himself. During his three terms as president he made quite restrictive amendments regarding the media and the Internet, the use of which have produced dozens of Asandzh. But his administration does not apply stricter legal provisions giving preference to free-thinking arrests on charges of drug possession and hooliganism. The presence of criminal charges and arrests on trumped up charges have the same goal - the spread and strengthening of networks of journalists and members of internal censorship itself.
The next example of such intimidation and restrictions of free thinking became the legislative initiative of the Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov, who submitted to the Parliament draft amendments to Article 148-1 of the Criminal Code. It criminalizes insults on the Internet using fake user names and profiles. It is also proposed to add to the Article 323.1 of the Criminal Code (protection of honor and dignity of the president) and to distribute the scope of this Article and on expressions on the Internet. It provides for criminal penalties for insulting the honor and dignity of the president using fake profiles and accounts and nicknames.
The policy of ignoring the fact on need a broad presence of the independent spectrum media, and the tightening censorship of the Internet, as before, will strengthen authoritarian tendencies in the country and further exacerbate the crisis that is the result of suppression of freedom of speech and freedom in the broadest sense,
The failure of all government programs offered by the authorities in various fields was a consequence of the lack of a broad public debate at the time of decision-making, implementation and monitoring. Blocking public participation in state-building has caused too much voluntarism and corruption, as evidenced by the judgment of the senior officials of the Ministry of Communications. The Court has identified large-scale embezzlement and abuse, which covers all government agencies, and is an objective phenomenon.
President Aliyev promises economic reforms, which will have to take the country out of the crisis and create a sustainable development. However, rejection of parallel conduct in the field of freedom of expression will not allow reform to implement the tasks without wide public participation, and expresser and mediator of which is free and pluralistic information platform. Refusal to public debate and public participation in the reform process with the participation and mediation of the media will inevitably lead to the failure of successive promising program.
There is another important point of this problem. Even if the authorities continue to ignore the need for freedom of the media and produce new barriers, it will not lead to the desired result - total control. Technological trends in the field of information communications demonstrate increasing exponentially the erosion of the boundaries of information and the same attitude among the Internet users. For example, WhatsApp and other encrypted now provide the possibility of negotiations, communication, bypassing the state-controlled gateways. And these technologies come with new tasks or are waiting for access to the information space.
Another growing trend can be called a strengthening of free and protest moods among the Azerbaijani network users. An example of the two young men who left their graffiti on the pedestal of the monument of Heydar Aliyev and the public refusal of repentance, even under the threat of long imprisonment is a serious signal, to which the authorities responded inadequately in the best traditions of the past. This fact and correspondence in social networks show the presence of growing protest and readiness to fight by possible means, even by those who the power calls outlaw.
In both cases, these trends are a reaction to the disregard to the freedom of information and attempts to impose restrictions on the freedom of thought. Experience shows that such a reaction in various stages of human history, constraints of freedom of speech has not yet come out victorious in this confrontation. In an era of rapid development of communications and information technologies restrictive policies destruction will occur much faster than in the era of linotype printing machines.