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Newspaper reporter allegedly threatened with violence by energy official following critical report

(IRFS/IFEX) - Rahib Hashimov, the regional correspondent of "Baku Zaman" newspaper for southern Azerbaijan, informed IRFS that he was recently threatened by the deputy chief of the Regional Energy Sale Department (RESD) in Lankaran, Malakram Mirzayev.

"Approximately three weeks ago [in late May 2008], I wrote an article entitled 'Family Gathering in the Regional Energy Sale Department', about the lack of professionalism and the exercise of nepotism within the department. I returned to Lankaran after this article was published. Malakram Mirzayev then contacted me by telephone and invited me to the department. He demanded that I publish a refutation and reveal the source for the information in my article. Citing the law, I refused," explained Hashimov.

"A little while later, I contacted Mirzayev concerning a blackout in the center of the region. He asked me whether I had yet published a refutation. When I said I hadn't, he started threatening me, saying things like: 'You don't know me well. I can make you disappear; I can kill you'. Immediately after this exchange, I filed a complaint with the Lankaran Regional Prosecutor's Office, and the Prosecutor's Office sent my complaint to the Lankaran City Police Department to be considered," said Hashimov, adding that he hopes the case will be investigated impartially.

When IRFS contacted Mirzayev about the incident, he stated: "What [Hashimov] wrote about us doesn't conform to reality. For this reason, I invited him to our office and asked him to consider our opinion when he writes about us."

Mirzayev denies threatening Hashimov and is preparing to appeal to the police to investigate the case. "He is defaming us. Let the law enforcement organs investigate this and bring the truth to light," said Mirzayev.

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