RECENT DECREES SIGNED ON MASS MEDIA INSTITUTIONS BY PRESIDENT DIDN’T MAKE IMPRISONED PRISONERS’ FAMILIES HAPPY

August 4th, 2008
On 31 July, President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree to give one time financial aid to a number of mass media institutions.

According to the decree, 38 mass media institutions will be given one time financial aid in the amount of 5,000 AZN (approximately 6,200 USD) from the president's reserve fund. On the same, President Ilham Aliyev also signed the decree on the concept for "Government Support for Development of the Mass Media in the Azerbaijan Republic.” Although some assess these decrees signed by the president as support for speech and press freedom, the families of the imprisoned journalists hold different points of view.
“The release of even just one of the imprisoned journalists would have been better; this could have been levied as genuine government support for speech freedom,” Javidan Huseynov, imprisoned “Bizim Yol” Newspaper correspondent Mushfig Huseynov’s relative, told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety.
Rana Zahidova, wife of imprisoned “Azadlig” Newspaper employee, satiric/journalist Sakit Zahidov’s wife, expressed doubts on the decrees. “It was for the first time that I was hearing about the government support for the newspapers. Instead of this, they could have pardoned one of the imprisoned journalists on National Press Day (ed: Azerbaijani national press was first founded on 22 July 1875 by Hasan Bey Zardabi when he published “Akinchi”. Every year on 22 July National Press Day in Azerbaijan is observed). This would have been better,” said Zahidova.
Emin Fatullayev, the father of imprisoned editor-in-chief of “Gundalik Azerbaijan” and “Realniy Azerbaijan” newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev, thinks that the decrees don’t have anything to do with the imprisoned journalists or their families. “What good does this do for us? Good luck to those who have been allocated the funding. It would be better to release the journalists. However, we weren’t surprised when the pardon didn’t happen on the National Press Day. We didn’t hope for the pardon decree, anyway,” said Fatullayev.
“I am not happy about 5,000 AZN allocated for the newspapers or about decree on the concept of ‘Government Support for the Development of Mass Media in the Azerbaijan Republic.’ This won’t pull the Azerbaijani press out of the grave situation it has already fallen in.” This was said by imprisoned “Azadlig” Newspaper Editor-in-chief Ganimat Zahid’s wife Ayanda Mursaliyeva.