Azerbaijan’s government has accused the Baku-based Turan Information Agency, widely seen as the country’s last independent media company, of tax evasion. Turan and international media organizations said the allegations are in fact aimed at silencing independent journalism.
On August 7, Turan reported that Azerbaijan’s tax authorities accused the agency of under-declaring its profits since 2014 and are demanding 37,000 manats ($22,000) in back payments and other charges. The ministry dispatched a tax inspector to begin an on-site audit of the agency’s activities the following day.
Turan has denied the allegations, referring the case to a Baku economic and administrative court. The news agency notes several irregularities in the investigation, including the tax authorities’ decision to omit information relating to a recent audit absolving Turan of similar allegations. It said the inspection was an attempt to “paralyze” the outlet.
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