Thursday, February 19

The biggest online portal in Azerbaijan- day.az- was shut down today

Today, Azerbaijan saw yet again, how far the government can go in its quest for achieving full power over freedom of speech in this country.

"The site was closed for reconstruction work and will resume its work in a week" stated Anar Mammedxanov, a parliament member in his official statement on the closure of one of the biggest news portals in Azerbaijan in Russuan and English languages- www.day.az (www.today.az). 

The only problem being that once the portal resumes its work it will no longer be the same. We already saw what happened to ANS (Azerbaijan News Service Agency) after it was shut down. Nothing good thats for sure! 

The reasons for the closure are mixed. One of the arguments is that the site was closed due to the pressure from the Russian government on Azerbaijan especially following the publication of news on the war in Georgia this August. This is not a surprise since Russia has significant sphere of influence in this region and while it (influence) is camouflaged under the term of 'balanced politics', there is more power politics in play rather than balanced. 

Some argue that it is the interview the website published with Berezovski who criticized the President of Russian Federation- Vladimir Putin of corruption and having accumulated 40 billion dollars in foreign accounts. 

Whatever the argument maybe, the picture is quite clear in Azerbaijan- the more you show you are different from the flock of sheep in this country the more punishment you get. Some get arrested, some get banned, some get silenced forever. 

The question is: how long this is going to continue and how far the ruling government is going to take this fight (but thats too well said, in this case its more of stabbing in the back) against freedom and democracy and all the followers of these ideologies? 

Waiting it out is one solution but what if it is going to take generations to wait it out?

8 comments:

Onnik Krikorian said...

No theories linking it to the referendum?

Arzu_G said...

Nope! The majority of the speculations circle around Russia factor, whether its true or not, I cannot say but things will get clearer over the next few days.

Anonymous said...

A few facts should be remembered about the closure:

Day.az and today.az are both run by the MP quoted above, Anar Mammedkhanly, a former close friend of President Aliyev until a bit of a falling out a while ago.

Day.az was the biggest Internet portal in the Caucasus. Russians, Georgians, and even Armenians read it. It was especially important during the Russian invasion of Georgia in August.

Day.az was never a symbol of free media, it was always pro-Aliyev. BUT, it was the most plualistic media Azerbaijan had and it was updated quickly.

IUt's not connected with the referendum. But we are seeing the definition of what is NOT allowed to say widening. Now a government MP is being censored on the Internet.

The government already monopolizes radio and TV (though there are plenty of opposition newspapers). Now comes the turn of the Internet. Watch out Broken Pipelines!

Adnan Hajizada said...

Arzu, this post of your made quite a sensation in AzNet. It is being forwarded by people and people are indeed discussing what is going on. In my case, I will have to agree with you, and it is about time when people start "называть вещи своими именами". It is a backstabbing indeed. But the answer to the question "How far the government is prepared to go in order to supress basic rights and liberties of people?" lies in the hands of the people. The government will go as far as the people will allow it to go. Day.az had 30,000 readers daily! Daily! that is a huge number. There free source of information was taken away from them in a second... and... nothing happened. They all logged in to Odnoklassniki or something.

Arzu_G said...

Thank you Adnan!
What is Odnoklassniki?
And I have heard already how much noise it has made. I am just hoping it is a step forward! And yes, I agree with you on the fact that "the government will go as far as the people will allow it to go". Except there is also the question of which group of people we are talking about? Youth movements? Young political activists? But surely not an average citizen (lets say from a village in Lenkoran) who is swamped with daily problems and does not think of politics or maybe is but too afraid to raise his/hers voice.

Adnan Hajizada said...

odnoklassniki is a russian version of facebook... and it is the second most used website in Azerbaijan after www.mail.ru. The website is used mostly for hooking up with hot women from Ukraine :).

RB said...

Nice post.

But let us not shout "fire!" before we see the smoke (although I do fear that you are right). We'll see on 25th, when day.az is supposeed to come back.

As Anonymous noted it was always pro-Aliyev, but it did criticize a lot of what happening in the country (building policy, etc.)

Rashid

Nargiz Klein said...

I'd like to call the government strategy of ruling the country is kinda like "grabbing the bull by the BALLS", it's not the best way for the government, but it's very effective and painful for the BULL. Now we all know, our politics don't try to strive their way for the best of the country, otherwise it wouldn't have been in a shithole state at this point. I am deeply upset if the suspicions on terminating Day.az are confirmed in the near future, which they will be. Kinda like, when they raised a question of downsizing Russian language chanels and programs and education points in the schools. It's the dummest thing to do, but for some reason our WISE president went ahead and approved it. I mean come on, the more lnaguages you know and speak the more times you are considered a man. Anyone of you who ever went out of the box, i.e. left Azerbaijan, travelled places, I'm sure came across instances when people were amazed at your ability to speak more than one language. Most of them wished they did too. And not just speak, but be able to think, anilize and create. The only way to master the language that way is to speak it from nthe way you are born. We had that invaluable opportunity and we are lucky, but our next generation is in a very sad state. Instead of progressing we are regressing, we are crushing everything good and valuable we had, for what? What are we trying to prove? And most of all, to who? Nobody cares...