Web Desk February 18, 2021

In 2017-2018, I repeatedly reported to the press about the criminal actions of members of the Board of the Press Council and other figures; and the Press Council appealed to the authorities demanding my arrest. However, I continued to expose them, reporting the illegal activities of the network of trolls and the media led by the then head of the Presidential Administration Department, Ali Hasanov. They attacked me, detained, confiscated computers, and closed my domains, the Reallig.info website. But I did not stop publishing articles about financial violations during the construction of houses for journalists, violation of the rights of freedom of speech, misappropriation of funds in the then liquidated State Media Support Fund (at that time executive director Vugar Safarli).


In 2018, I was twice invited to the Presidential Administration, where Ali Hasanov and his subordinate, the head of the sector Vugar Aliyev, spoke to me, offered me financial support in exchange for refusing to expose Hasanov’s network. They said that over 60 media outlets financed by them could not fulfill the duties assigned to them; they were powerless against my revelations. I was also asked to attack the “Media Club”, created by Mehman Aliyev, Arif Aliyev, Gulu Maharramli, Elchin Shikhly, and Avaz Hasanov. They said that if I agree, they will make me as rich as I have never lived before.


On October 28, 2018 I wrote an open letter to Ali Hasanov “I cannot put myself in your place,” and after 5 hours I was arrested.


– Were you invited to the Presidential Administration after Ali Hasanov’s dismissal? After all, Vugar Aliyev remains in his former position.


– N, I was not invited. Vugar Aliyev runs the network of trolls he created, for what he is kept there. As long as he is in the Presidential Administration, there will be no improvements in the press. He was directly involved in the crimes around the Houses for Journalists, the distribution of apartments, the secret leadership of the press. V. Aliyev should be arrested, the network of trolls cultivating aggression should be disbanded, and the illegally given apartments should be confiscated.


– Why was A. Hasanov dismissed, and V. Aliyev left in office? It would be logical to dismiss V. Aliyev, convicting him for all the crimes, but not A. Hasanov.


– Because Ali Hasanov was organizing information attacks on various statesmen through the media. He did not justify the tasks entrusted to him, not a single newspaper and website he runs are read by the people. Crimes were revealed in the “Caspian” training center, which belonged to A. Hasanov’s wife.


– You were arrested and convicted on racketeering charges.


– It is false and unproven accusation. My voice in the audio recording is falsified. There are inconsistencies in the evidence. It refers to publications that came out when this site did not exist. Another witness talks about our meeting, mentioning the date when I was in the remand isolator. After my arrest, for a week, all media outlets controlled by A. Hasanov and his son spread the happy news about my detention and then conviction.


– Vugar Aliyev continues to work in the presidential apparatus. The arrested Vugar Safarli was replaced by another official; the name of the organization he headed was changed. Now it is not a Foundation, but a Media Development Agency.


– This means that nothing has changed in the country, the political line has remained the same. Vugar Aliyev, Board of the Press Council remained in their same positions. The change of the name does not change the essence; independent media do not see state support and the benefits from these reshuffles.


– The former head of the presidential administration department, Ali Hasanov, was dismissed from two consecutive posts; the chair of the State Media Assistance Fund Vugar Safarli was arrested. The Board of the Press Council continues to operate. The rest of the leaders you criticize are free and give interviews against you. Does this mean that your fight is lost?


– It is wrong to say that I was defeated; there are fired people, and the investigation is underway. I sent a request to Strasbourg, to the Council of Europe about grants for Vugar Rahimzade, Azer Hasrat, and Mushvig Alaskarli. I was informed that the chair of the so-called Trade Union of Journalists, Mushvig Aleskerli, received tens of thousands of euros from there. Some Azerbaijani media received grants from the CE three times, amounting 77,500 euros. The CE does not provide me with complete data because Parvana Bayramova works in the CE Baku office, who often met with Mushvig Aleskerli and Ali Hasanov and discussed joint projects with them.


Recently, I again applied to the Baku office of the Council of Europe and the Council for State Support of Non-Governmental Organizations, and listed many journalistic non-governmental organizations, demanding to report on the grants issued to them. I wanted to know about grants for members of the Press Council. No answers came, then on February 16, 2021 I turned to the Ombudswoman of Azerbaijan with a complaint about violations of the law on obtaining information, I am waiting for her reaction. If the silence continues, I will go to court against the chair of the Council of State Support for NGOs, MP Azay Guliyev. At my request, the Prosecutor General’s Office reports on the ongoing investigation.


There is Vugar Rahimzade (Iki Sahil newspaper) in the Board of the Press Council; he received a grant from SOCAR for hundreds of thousands of manats. There is the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Bakı xəbər” Aydin Guliyev, who received an apartment in the House of Journalists that was not assigned to him. I hope that I will be able to secure the return of the stolen state funds and the confiscation of their apartments, built for real journalists.


– Three houses for journalists have been built in Baku, large-scale thefts were revealed during construction. Two people were arrested for this. Two people cannot carry out such large schemes.


– Vugar Safarli, responsible for the construction, returned to the state 6 million manats, appropriated during the construction of houses. His arrested accomplice, director of Porthos LLC, Nadir Mammadov, illegally attributed extra square meters to the constructed living space in order to pocket public funds. Apartments in two houses were distributed to real and fictitious (fictitious 40%) journalists. It does not end there. Now the deputies and the Board of the Press Council, turning to the Prosecutor General’s Office, want to stop the investigation against them. They are afraid that the source of financing of the website axar.az belonging to Aynur Jamalgizi and other dubious affairs of Vugar Rahimzade, Mushvig Aleskerli will be revealed; the entire criminal network in the media will be exposed. They want to close this case, cover up all crimes.


– Your opponents in the Board of the Press Council claim that they have effectively fought racketeering in the press.


– How can they fight this, if Aynur Jamalgizi, Aydin Guliyev, Yadigar Mammadli, Azer Hasrat, Rauf Arifoglu and others from the Press Council Board network are themselves engaged in racketeering, financing their media in this way? The Press Council is directly involved in racketeering, there are known questionable cases of these people with a number of companies, institutions that ordered the inclusion of critical media in the black list of the Press Council. Aflatun Amashev built a three-story villa in Pirshagi. With what money? They are honest, and I, living in a rented apartment, are accused of racketeering.


– You accuse them, and they tell you – present evidence on each point. You can buy a villa for your own money, buy furniture with your grandmother’s money, and a car can be a service car. What do you say to this?


– They do not deny. Mushvig Aleskerli answers: I have a foreign car, and its price is not 80, but 50 thousand manats. He confirms that he called the Heart Center, but denies the accusation of threats. It is necessary to see how Aflatun Amashev lived before he became the chair of the Press Council. Now he admits that he owns a villa in Pirshagi, a photograph of which I presented to the public. What salary did he build it with?


– They may arrest you again, or perhaps something else may happen, as it happened with the human rights activist Oktay Gyulalyev.


– This is expected. I believe in Allah, he decides everything. I know that if I do not keep quiet, terrible events can happen against me. But I won’t stop.


– You were released from prison earlier than the term established by the court. Does this mean there is a fair trial in the country? After all, they say that the ahead of time release can be only for a bribe.


– In Azerbaijan, the judicial sphere is in a terrible state. The judges copy the accusations of the investigators. My release was the result of going to court, a protest hunger strike. They could have left me in custody, but they did not have a document for this on my violations of the rules of detention. I was sentenced to 5 years 6 months. My lawyer Elchin Sadikhov went to court for two months on my complaint about the reduction of the term of imprisonment, and the trial was postponed for two months. After the dismissal of A. Hasanov, the court changed my sentence to 3 years and changed the measure of restraint. They do not take bribes from journalists, I do not have money, even if I found a million, they would not take this money from me. I myself am surprised that they released me.


I appeal to worthy journalists to submit to the investigating authorities the facts they have about the crimes of Ali Hasanov’s network. We will not see any improvement without the common struggle of journalists. It is impossible to remain silent, observing the impunity of the Board of the Press Council. I will demand that the state condemn A. Hasanov, who embezzled 26 million manats. His being in freedom mean that the law enforcement agencies show their disrespect for the state.


Source: Turan News Agency

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