Freedom of speech, a law decriminalizing defamation, and the Media Achari awards were on the agenda at the Open Society Institute’s Frontline Club event held at the Europe hotel on January 11th, 2011.
Russian internet media expert and head of the online version of the Facts and Arguments newspaper, Dmitry Fyodorov, said that Russia’s recent adoption of a law on defamation was unnecessary.
However, APA news agency director Vusala Mahirgizi supported the call for a law on defamation. She noted that there are problems with freedom of speech and expression in Azerbaijan, but that internet media and social networks remain free.
Rauf Arifoglu, the chief editor of Yeni Musavat newspaper believes that there are big problems with media in Azerbaijan. Yeni Musavat faced lawsuits totaling 2 million AZN in fines in 2011due to the continued refusal of the government to decriminalize defamation.,
The first deputy editor of Azadlig newspaper, Rahim Hajiyev, believes that his newspaper has suffered the greatest degree of harassment by government authorities. In the past couple of years, Azadliq employees Ramil Deco and Seymour Ghazi were beaten and kidnapped, while Agil Khalil and Fikret Huseynov were forced to emigrate.
The event concluded with the awarding of the winners of the "Media Acari" competition.
Radio Liberty took home two winners—best columnist Huseynbala Salimov and best investigative journalism, Vusala Alibayli.
Academician Rafik Aliyev won “Man of the Year” while the “best reporter” award was not awarded.