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Azerbaijan20 September 2005

News agency Turan accused of disinformation after reporting Gallup denial of pro-president poll

The Azeri authorities have accused privately-owned news agency Turan of disinformation over a 9 September 2005 report in which it said Gallup had denied carrying out a poll giving a high popularity rating to President Ilham Aliyev.

Official and pro-government media hit back after Turan published Gallup’s refutation of the poll that showed 77% of voters planning to back the current president in November elections. They carried a report from the government news agency Azertaj, accusing Turan of disinformation

“These machinations demonstrate the determination of the authorities to discredit the country’s independent and opposition media in the run-up to legislative elections on 6 November“, said Reporters Without Borders.

“We urge President Aliyev to restore all the key conditions for a return to genuine press freedom in this critical period,” it added.

Pro-government media put out false news and information in May citing Gallup as the source. From 6-10 August, the premises of four opposition newspapers came under mob attack from members of the pro-government party, Yeni Azerbaijan, plainclothes police officers and Baku municipal officials.

More recently, on 15 September, three grenades were found in the offices of opposition organisation, Yeni Fikir, within the premises of opposition daily Azadlig. The organisation’s members are convinced the munitions were planted there in a bid to compromise them.

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