Distribution of free housing has stirred up heated debates on social media
Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, has participated in the commissioning of a second ‘journalists’ house’ on 20 July, two days ahead of National Press Day. A list containing the names of 133 journalists, the lucky owners of the gratuitous apartments granted by the Azerbaijani government, has been made public.
“Now we are going to celebrate the commissioning of the second building. There are 156 apartments in the first building and 255 in the second one. Presumably, there will be 255 apartments in the third building,” said President Aliyev.
The owners of the 133 apartments have been made public. The list includes not only reputable journalists, but also those who are quite unknown to readers as well as to their own colleagues. Several families of journalists who died earlier, have also been awarded apartments. The apartment owners’ list is available here (in the Azerbaijani language).
Distribution of ‘gratis’ apartments by the government has stirred up a heated debate on social media. Some users termed it as a ‘disguised form of journalist bribing’, some said that journalists deserved better living conditions and others ‘take what you get’.
We offer some quotes from FB users’ posts, without naming the authors:
“Congratulations to those of my colleagues who’ve been granted housing! May you hear only good news in the new apartments! I wish every journalist could buy an apartment with his salary in Azerbaijan. I know, it’s a utopia, but at least let’s hope for hope.”
“My hugs to all of those who no longer have to live in a rented apartment. As a person with 17-years’ experience of being a tenant, I know exactly how it feels. I would also like to congratulate those who already have 2 or 3 apartments, but who applied for it anyway and received another one through the logic of ‘if the government gives it, why shouldn’t I take it?’. I don’t take offense and I don’t snarl either. The winners aren’t judged. But I believe their joy differs from that of the first group.”
“Dear Mark Elliot Zuckerberg!
We would like to ask you to build a house for active Facebook users in Azerbaijan. We are promoting your website, aren’t we?! We work, write statuses, collect and put likes…”
“I was granted an apartment in the first ‘jour. house’ (journalists’ house -ed.). Before that, I’d rented an apartment for 21 years. It wasn’t a gift, but rather a well-deserved prize. Many of my worthy colleagues have received apartments today. I can’t understand those who live on ‘good money’ that they receive from different governments, and who condemn those who ‘have received money from the government.’ After I received an apartment from the government, I really have become independent. First of all, I’m no longer a homeless person. Secondly, once you are given, you should take it. And, finally: I’d been paying a rental fee for 21 years, whereas now I’ll pay this money towards my children’s education, where my children are my life, hope and future.”
“Some are arrested on their way home, others are granted apartments. I know that one journalist from this list surely has 2 apartments, and this will be the third one. I know that many of them are harsher in their criticism of the government in privy than I. Then the next day, they praise the government, congratulate home owners and wait for their turn.”
“Instead of distributing the apartments they’d better release detained journalists.”
(At least 8 journalists and bloggers are currently held in detention in Azerbaijan – ed.)
“Dear friends, congratulate our family! We’d been under pressure for more than 20 years. Finally, we were lucky to be given the opportunity to write this status. Our labors have been duly appreciated. We are grateful to our government and Mr. President for the happiness they brought to a journalist’s family and for improving our living and housing conditions!”
Find details on the housing distribution criteria and experts’ comments in JAMnews’ article: