February 11th, 2011
IRFS held a press conference today to present a project report for its “Monitoring of Human Rights and Mass Media in Nakhchivan” initiative, which is being implemented with financial support from Norwegian Foreign Ministry.

The report covered the last three months. IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov He reported that 2 TV channels, 2 radio stations and 9 newspapers are currently operating in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR), and they are all financed by municipal authorities.

The project executors, Elman Abbasov and Hakimeldostu Mehdiyev said that there had been no positive developments in the human rights or media situation. All mass media outlets are propaganda machines for former President Heydar Aliyev, President Ilham Aliyev and NAR parliament head Vasif Talibov. There was no criticism of the incumbent establishment. The newspapers did not report on developments in other parts of Azerbaijan, let alone on international news. The residents of Nakhchivan are living in an information vaccuum. This problem is compounded by the lack of high speed internet capability. The project leaders said that independent and opposition journalists and mass media outlets banned from entering the NAR. Based on their findings, they predict that media representatives and human rights defenders there will face increasing challenges.

Nakhchivan residents often face pressures and harrassment from local authorities. For example, residents, who want to bring home food from Turkey have to bribe officials at the checkpoint. If they refuse to do so, their goods are confiscated and sold on to traders at lower prices. Similarly, residents are not allowed to import cars produced before 2006. According to the project coordinators, the measures taken by local authorities are geared towards developing their personal business interests.

Project editor Idrak Abbasov spoke about the diminishing number of information sources in the NAR. According to him, the governmental agencies are generally reluctant to provide information to citizens. Citizens who go to the media face consequences.