Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that Hakimeldostu Mehdiyev, a correspondent of the Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety (IRFS) in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan, has repeatedly been harassed by officials for the past week. It is the latest example of the intolerance that the local authorities show towards the media in Nakhchivan.
“This harassment of Mehdiyev on the most ridiculous pretexts must stop at once, and the physical violence used against two of his fellow journalists must not go unpunished,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Attacks on journalists are unfortunately common in Nakhchivan, where the authorities like to foster a climate of tension that is very hostile to media freedom.”
According to Mehdiyev, who has been harassed in the past, he is being hounded now because he accompanied Michael Ludwig, a journalist with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, during an abortive reporting visit to Nakhchivan in early July.
When Ludwig arrived in Nakhchivan with press accreditation from the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, the local authorities initially refused to let him work. However, Mehdiyev helped journalist to partially carry out his journalistic work.
IRFS correspondent to Nakhchivan Elman Abbasov and Turan Information Agency correspondent Ilgar Nasibov were assaulted by Sharur District Police Department employees while preparing news report in Jalil village of Sharur on July 15th. The journalists were beaten, their photo and video cameras were seized and the records deleted. The pressures on the journalists kicked off after the visit of “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” correspondent, political commentator Michael Ludwig to Nakhchivan. Ludwig had to leave Nakhchivan as a result of pressures imposed by local authorities. The fact that the foreign journalist was accompanied by Mehdiyev at his visit to Sadarak region disappointed the local authorities, who then decided to punish him.
On July 13th, Sharur District Executive Power Deputy Head Aladdin Mammadov, together with several persons, arrived at IRFS correspondent to Nakhchivan Hakimeldostu Mehdiyev’s house, pressured on him and cut off the power supply to the small car-washing station run by Mehdiyev. He was again assaulted on July 15 with regard to the said issue. Elman Abbasov and Ilgar Nasibov had arrived at the scene to investigate the incident.