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OSCE Concerned About Media Situation In Azerbaijan

Haraszti said the developments are "seriously restricting media pluralism and freedom of expression" (Courtesy Photo) PRAGUE, November 27, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has expressed its concern about what it calls the deteriorating media situation in Azerbaijan.

In a letter today to President Ilham Aliyev, the OSCE's representative on freedom of the media, Miklos Haraszti, noted the recent closure by Azerbaijani authorities of the independent broadcaster ANS and the eviction of "Azadliq," a leading opposition newspaper, from its offices.

Haraszti said the developments are "seriously restricting media pluralism and freedom of expression" in Azerbaijan.

The OSCE says the newspaper "Bizim Yol," the Turan news agency, the Yeni Nesil publishing house, and the Institute for Reporter Freedom and Safety, a civil body, were also forced to leave the building.

Speaking with Reuters in Baku today, Elcin Sixli, the editor of the independent, Russian-language newspaper "Zerkalo," said: "Our views are different [from those of 'Azadliq'], but for us journalists, including myself, there is only one view [on the closure of 'Azadliq']. This is, in fact, an attempt to put pressure on the opposition and independent media. This is an attempt to put pressure on freedom of expression."

The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors has also expressed its concern about the developments. ANS carried shows produced by the Voice of America and RFE/RL.

(with Reuters)

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