The Azerbaijani Ministry of Taxes will conduct a tax inspection of Khural newspaper, reported the newspaper director Nizami Hasanli to IRFS today (27 December).
According to Hasanli, a person, who identified himself as Shahin, an employee of the Ministry of Taxes, phoned him, saying that the Ministry of Taxes will inspect the operations of Khural newspaper conducted between 2009 and 2011.
“Though Shahin says that the decision was the Ministry’s, he later noted that an investigator from the Anti-Corruption Department under the General Prosecutor’s Office demanded that the inspection be over in five days,” Hasanli said and recalled that the property of the newspaper has been confiscated by the court executors, and the documents were confiscated by the Anti-Corruption Department. “We were expelled from the office and our documents have been confiscated. It’s not clear on what documents they will base their inspection on.”
Elchin Sadigov, lawyer of jailed Khural editor Avaz Zeynalli, told IRFS that the Anti-Corruption Department has filed an inquiry asking if the newspaper committed tax evasion.
“It is a totally illegal affair, and as the defendant side, we’ll take all necessary legal measures,” the lawyer noted.
Khural newspaper was published weekly since October 2002, and began to be published daily beginning September 20th, 2011. The property of Xural newspaper was confiscated because of its failure to pay court fines totaling 19 thousand manat based on the charges leveled by the chief of President Adminstration, Ramiz Mehdiyev, the executor director of State Support Foundation for Mass Media, Vuqar Sefereliyev, and others. After October 21st, printing houses refused to publish the newspaper, causing it cease production.
The chief-editor of newspaper was arrested on October 28th based on accusations of bribery by MP Gular Ahmedova. He was sentenced to 3 months of pre-trial detention by Nasimi District Court. It is widely believed by local and international human rights organizations that Zeynalli has been jailed for articles he wrote which criticized the authorities.