MASS MEDIA INSTITUTIONS RECEIVE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FROM PRESIDENT

July 31st, 2008
Today President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree to give out one time financial aid to mass media institutions.

According to the decree, 38 mass media institutions will each receive one time aid in the amount of 5000 AZN (6200 USD approximately) from the president’s reserve fund. 

The list of mass media means to receive fund is reflected in the decree and you can visit the link below to read its entire content in Azeri:
http://www.president.az/articles.php?item_id=20080731021600488&sec_id=30

The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety contacted editors to learn their positions on the allocated funds and what they will do with the money. Editor-in-Chief of “Ayna” and “Zerkalo” Newspapers Elchin Shikhli answered the questions briefly using a proverb, “Don’t look a gift horse in the teeth.”

“Turan” Information Agency Director Mehman Aliyev said that they couldn’t decide yet what to do with the money. “I think we should give it to journalists who are in need. The amount is not big enough to solve any problem of the editorial office. This is a good step anyway. At least, we can buy a couple of computers with this money,” said M. Aliyev, adding that it was notable that the list includes opposition newspapers’ names as well. M. Aliyev also added that he hopes the president will pardon the imprisoned journalists and take continuous steps to improve the situation of the press.

“This aid comes from money obtained through Azerbaijan’s resources, and as Azeri citizens, we also have a share in the money coming from these resources,” said “Azadlig” Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Azer Ahmadov. It would be better to release one of the imprisoned journalists or to reduce the prison term in half instead of this aid, he added. Ahmadov emphasized that THE influence and circulation of the newspapers haven’t been considered when signing the decree.  According to him, this amount might be enough for any weekly or monthly newspaper’s work for a year. However, it’s not enough for one week of a daily newspaper like “Azadlig”.

“Azerbaijan” Newspaper Editor-in-Chief, parliamentarian, Bakhtiyar Sadigov assessed the fund allocated for the mass media by President Ilham Aliyev as support for the development of speech and press freedom. “Without any discrimination, 5000 AZN will be allocated to different opposition, government and independent newspapers. 5000 AZN allocated from the government budget is not enough to pull the press out from existing difficulties, but this amount will help the Azerbaijani Press to overcome difficulties at least a little.”

Press Council Chairman Aflatun Amashov assessed the assistance allocated by the president as support for the development of the mass media. 5000 AZN was allocated from the government budget in connection with 22 July holiday to assist in press development. 

Amashov expressed his position on the appeal that was sent to the president, which remains unanswered, to release imprisoned journalists. He said he hopes that the president will soon consider this issue. “The Press Council sent numerous appeals to President Ilham Aliyev up to now. Last time we appealed to the president about the imprisoned journalists. However, to pardon and free the journalists is the work of the government, not ours,” he added.