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Azerbaijan12 January 2007

Government blocks two websites for criticising economic policy

Reporters Without Borders today called on the Azerbaijani authorities to restore access to two websites, and, which they have been blocking since 9 January because of content criticising the government’s economic policies.

“Last November, President Ilham Aliyev said he intended to ensure respect for free expression, especially online free expression,” the organisation said. “We regret that the president does not keep his promises.”

The site had launched a petition protesting against an increase in the cost of energy and municipal services in Azerbaijan. The site had voiced concern about the political and economic problems that Azerbaijanis have to face. Access to was previously blocked last July after it posted cartoons of President Aliyev.

In Azerbaijan, the communications ministry exercises a monopoly of the long-distance telephone network through the state-owned company Aztelcom, and most of the country’s ISPs depend directly on it. It is therefore very easy for the government to ensure implementation of an order blocking an Internet address.

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