The sharp rise in violence against journalists included the murder of editor Elmar Husseynov in March 2005.
Elmar Husseynov, editor of the opposition weekly Monitor, was shot dead on his way home from work on 2 March. The country has no broadcast media diversity and the written press is fiercely divided between opposition and government mouthpieces.
Police physically attacked 26 journalists in the run-up to parliamentary elections in November, beating up 14 during a demonstration by the Azadlig opposition coalition in Baku on 9 October despite their having press badges. Two were seriously injured and hospitalised. A dozen more were beaten during a 26 November opposition protest against electoral fraud and calling for the government’s resignation.
Photojournalist Alim Kazimli, of the main opposition daily Yeni Musavat, died of a brain haemorrhage in June as a result of a beating by police in Baku on 28 December 2004.
The authorities continue to directly and indirectly pressure independent media by restricting access to supposedly public information, obstructing newspaper printing, distribution and advertising and by excessive use of libel actions and huge fines.
The country’s press law is still way below European standards and journalists face up to three years in prison for defamation (article 147.2 of the criminal code) and up to six for “insulting the reputation and dignity” of the president (article 148).