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Azerbaijan detains 10th media worker ahead of elections

16 January 2024
Shahin Rzayev. Image via social media.

Azerbaijani police have detained journalist Shahin Rzayev near his home in Baku, making him the 10th media worker to be detained in the country since late November.

Rzayev was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest on charges of petty hooliganism and disobeying the orders of the police.

Prior to the Interior Ministry’s confirmation of Rzayev’s arrest and sentencing on Monday evening, his family had reported that they had not heard from him since he left to buy groceries near their home in Surakhani in Baku at around 14:00.

Ibrahim Amiraslanli, a spokesperson for the ministry, told media on Monday that Rzayev was shouting obscenities in public at the time of his arrest. He stated that a police officer detained the journalist after he had refused to stop swearing.

Rzayev has denied the charges against him, while his family asserts that he was detained because of a Facebook post he had written and then deleted.

Rzayev specialises in conflict journalism, having previously been the director of the Institute of War and Peace Reporting in Azerbaijan until it ceased its operations in the country in 2016. He has also worked with the regional outlet JAMnews.

Rzayev is the latest media worker to be targeted by Baku in its ongoing crackdown on the press, beginning with the raid of AbzasMedia and arrest of several of its employees in late November.


He was also the second journalist to be arrested on Monday; Elnara Gasimova, a journalist associated with AbzasMedia, was arrested and remanded to two months and 17 days pre-trial detention on charges of smuggling.

Azerbaijan has arrested ten media workers since late November, as the country prepares for upcoming presidential elections in early February.

Update: On Tuesday evening, the Baku Court of Appeals ordered Rzayev’s release and changed his sentence to a ₼50 ($29) fine.

Read in Georgian on On.ge.
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