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Local authorities in Ganja confiscate edition of newspapers over crime reporting

(IRFS/IFEX) - Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who is currently on a work-related trip to the city of Ganja, told IRFS that the 18 October 2007 edition of the newspaper for which he works, "Yeni Musavat", had been banned in Ganja. According to Mukhtarli, all copies of "Yeni Musavat" were confiscated from newspaper kiosks at the order of the head of the Ganja Executive Administration, Eldar Azizov, and the City Police Chief Garib Hasanov. The newspaper edition was banned due to its coverage of recent crimes in Ganja, Mukhtarli said, adding that on 19 October it was back on newsstands.

IRFS contacted other newspapers to see if their sales had been similarly restricted. The chief editor of "24 Saat" newspaper, Fikret Faramezoglu, told IRFS that the sale of his newspaper had also been banned in Ganja on 18 October. Faramezoglu added that six months before, the sale of "24 Saat" had also been banned in the city of Sumgayit. Faramezoglu said this was due to critical articles in the newspaper about the Sumgayit City Police and the city's Executive Administration. IRFS also learned that all copies of "Azadlig" newspaper were confiscated in Ganja on 19 October.

IRFS polled several citizens of Ganja, who reported that attempts are being made to conceal crimes that occur in this city and the results of investigations into those crimes.

Recently, "Bizim Gundem" newspaper was banned in four regions of Azerbaijan, due to critical articles about local government in these regions (see IFEX alert of 18 October 2007). In addition, on 24 September, IRFS, citing information from Turan News Agency, reported that the sale of all opposition and independent newspapers had been temporarily banned in the Bilasuvar region, after Bilasuvar residents conducted a press conference in Baku on illegal events and conflicts with the region's executive administration.

Ganja is the second largest city in Azerbaijan and is located in the eastern part of the country.

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