On January 13, Elmir Abbasov, a member of NIDA movement, was taken against his will to local police station in the city of Sumgayit where he was questioned over his Facebook post about president Ilham Aliyev.
In his interview with Azadliq Radio, Abbasov said, he was on his way to a shop when a man told Abbasov to get into the car for a chat at the police station. Abbasov, who said without a warrant he won’t be going anywhere, was then shuved into the car and taken to the station by force.
Abbasow spent the next two hours at the police station, where he was informed that the reason for his interrogation was a Facebook post, he wrote about the President. He was told to immediately delete the post.
AIW spoke with Abbasov about the content of the post which is no longer available on the social media platform.
Under normal circumstances this post would not be considered critical but in Azerbaijan, the sensitivity around certain personalities as in the case of the president are common and not tolerated.
In the case of Abbasov’s post, it was a comment about an economic system heavily reliant on hydrocarbons. This has been voiced by international financial institutions, experts and pundits alike for a long time.
Similarly, Abbasov’s post stressed the country’s economy, over reliance to fluctuating oil price as a result of its dependence and recommended that the president takes recommendations by independent economists seriously rather than dismiss them.
Three days before Abbasov was taken to the police and ordered to delete his post from Facebok, one freelance journalist [name omitted due to safety concerns] was told to delete a Facebook post, that was critical of the local law enforcement. Namely, the journalist desrcibed seeing one officer, take a bribe from a man stopped on the street as part of the COVID measures in place. The source told AIW, the measure was taken in an attempt to keep the reputation of the local agency clean.