(IRFS/IFEX) - On 3 August 2010, in the press center of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), "Khural" newspaper editor-in-chief Avaz Zeynalli conducted a press conference regarding the lawsuits filed against him and his newspaper.
Zeynalli said that several civil and criminal lawsuits had been filed against him and "Khural" newspaper in the last two months.
"In July, a civil suit by the head of the Presidential Administration, Ramiz Mehdiyev, was brought before the Narimanov District Court. The court ruled that 'Khural' newspaper must pay a 10,000 AZN (approx. US$12,400) fine. If the fine is paid, 'Khural' newspaper will be forced to cease its publication. As it is, 'Khural' has financial difficulties," Zeynalli said.
"In an article I used the expression 'press butcher' in reference to the executive director of the State Support Fund for Development of Mass Media, Vugar Safarli. Safarli filed a civil lawsuit against me demanding (a refutation be published in the paper and) 10,000 AZN in compensation," said Zeynalli.
According to a notice sent to the paper on 27 July, Safarli claimed that his honor and dignity were offended by the expression "press butcher" as quoted in the article, "Ilham Aliyev is not the president of 'Khural' newspaper", published in the paper's 25-31 July issue.
Zeynalli claimed that the lawsuit is part of a plan to put an end to "Khural" newspaper, a plan that was reportedly set in motion by the head of the political department of the Presidential Administration, Ali Hasanov. Zeynallie emphasized that the plaintiffs in these civil and criminal lawsuits are acting in support of this plan.
Zeynalli added that "Yeni Musavat" newspaper editor-in-chief Rauf Arifoglu has filed both civil and criminal lawsuits against him. He emphasized that when money was given to "the paper by the government, on the occasion of the 135th anniversary of the national press, "Khural" and other weekly newspapers were not given financial assistance.
IRFS chairman Emin Huseynov wrote an open letter to Arifoglu requesting he withdraw his criminal lawsuits against Zeynalli and "Milletim" newspaper chief adviser Faramaz Novruzoglu.
Zeynalli noted that he supports Huseynov's and other media representatives' attempts at reconciliation. Arifoglu told one of his friends who offered a resolution that he is concerned about Zeynalli's potential arrest, which Arifoglu asked for in his criminal lawsuit.
"My friends want me to stop writing articles about Rauf Arifoglu. I believe that if Arifoglu is concerned, he should withdraw his lawsuits, and then I will take the necessary steps," said Zeynalli.
"Khural" newspaper was established in October 2002 and is published once a week.
The State Support Fund for Development of Mass Media was created by a decree signed by Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev on 3 April 2009. Safarli was appointed the executive director of the Fund by a decree signed by the president in May 2009.