Azerbaijan is continuing its investigation into the finances of the country’s last-standing independent newswire, Turan, despite hopes that an international outcry would help compel the nation’s free-media-wary authorities to back down. The agency estimates that it may be able to continue to operate only for another month or two.
“Our situation is ambiguous,” the newswire’s editor, Shain Gajiyev, told Tamada Tales. “We still face a criminal case on tax evasion . . .We have a problem with our bank accounts. While they have not been closed, we currently can’t use the deposits made to our accounts. So, we can’t pay salaries to our staff.”
Tax officials claim Turan and its director, Mehman Aliyev, robbed the state of up to 27,000 manats (about $16,000) in unpaid taxes. The agency faces a potential penalty of 10,000 manats (about $6,000) in connection with the charges.
International media-freedom watchdogs, though, dismiss the charges as a classic excuse for the Azerbaijani government to muffle another critical media voice. Baku rejects such claims.
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