President of the Republic of Azerbaijan since 2003
Predator since taking office, but especially since 2014
Azerbaijan, 167th/180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index
PREDATORY METHOD: Subservient judicial system
Azerbaijan’s subservient judicial system convicts journalists on absurd, spurious charges that are sometimes very serious, while the security services never rush to investigate physical attacks on journalists and sometimes protect their assailants, even when they have committed appalling crimes. Under President Aliyev, news sites can be legally blocked if they pose a “danger to the state or society.” Censorship was stepped up during the war with neighbouring Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh and the government routinely refuses to give accreditation to foreign journalists.
FAVOURITE TARGETS: Critical journalists
OFFICIAL DISCOURSE: Part denial, part hypocrisy
“We have free media, we have free Internet. Now, due to the martial law we have some restrictions but before there have been no restrictions. The number of Internet users in Azerbaijan is more than 80 percent. Can you imagine the restriction of media in a country where Internet is free, there is no censorship, and there are 80 percent of Internet users? (...) How can you say that we don’t have free media. This is again, a biased approach. This is an attempt to create a perception in Western audience about Azerbaijan. We have opposition, we have NGOs, we have free political activity, we have free media, we have freedom of speech.” (Interview for BBC News at the height of the Nagorno-Karabakh war in November 2020).