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Satirical Blog In Azerbaijan Blocked

A satirical blog in Azerbaijan called "Scorpion" has been blocked for nearly one week, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The site administrators, who requested anonymity for security reasons, issued a statement on October 13 saying that the blog might have been blocked because its satirical commentaries, photos, videos, and caricatures have annoyed some government officials.

The administrators have sought to inform Internet users in Azerbaijan about ways to access the blog via proxy servers since it became inaccessible on October 8.

Delta Telecom, the main Internet service provider in Azerbaijan, told RFE/RL that they experienced no problems in accessing the site, adding later that Delta Telecom has nothing to do with the issue since the "Scorpion" blog is not hosted by it.

Osman Gunduz, president of Azerbaijan's Internet Forum, told RFE/RL that he could not comment on the situation without consulting with the site's administrators.

But Emin Huseynov, the head of the Baku-based Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Security, called the situation around the "Scorpion" blog "censorship," saying that a similar situation exists with other satirical blogs in the country.

"If the site is accessible through a proxy server, that means somebody has ordered that it be blocked," Huseynov said. "Providers are not so free to act independently. The site managers can appeal to a court."

Mushfiq Amirov, press secretary of the Communications and Information Technology Ministry, told RFE/RL the ministry is unaware of the situation and has nothing to do with it.

"The ministry does not ban or interfere with any site's activity," Amirov said.

The administrators of the "Scorpions" blog told RFE/RL that the problems with their site might be connected with the parliamentary elections scheduled for November 7.