Employees of Azadliq newspaper and a group of journalists from other media outlets held a protest in front of the office of Gasid state-run press distribution firm today demanding payment of the 56,000 manat debt. Gasid owns this sum for the sold copies of Azadliq newspaper.
The protesters chanted slogans “Stop suppressing Azadliq”, “Shame on suppressors of free press.”
“We cannot get our moneys for now a year and a half. This is embezzlement. As a result of it Azadliq has become indebted to printing house. We temporarily remedied the situation thanks to donations, but the situation remains dire. The authorities intend to silence the newspaper by all means,” said Azadliq deputy editor Rahim Hajiyev.
Deputy Director of Gasid, Aghasi Ismayilov met with the protesters, but said the firm is not in position to pay the debt.
“We are contemplating taking loans to pay our debt and also considering other options. This is not a deliberate action and we have not been ordered by anyone to do so. I cannot say something on behalf of our director and I think we’d rather discuss the problem when he returns,” said Ismayilov.
One of the participants of the protest, journalist Shahvalad Chobanoglu said they had anticipated such a response, as similar protests had been held before.
“We must act together to protect not only Azadliq newspaper, but the freedom of expression as well. We want our entire community to see the truth” said Chobanoglu.