Social media users connected this decision with the 'cold' reception given to Ilham Aliyev in the United States.
The Ministry of Taxes of Azerbaijan has reinstated the sanctions which they had cancelled just one week ago against the Turan news agency, the oldest independent news agency in the country.
On 18 September, Turan news agency received an e-mail from the Ministry of Taxes dated 15 September. The letter said that the agency had an outstanding debt of 37 000 manat (around USD 22 000).
Six days before that on 12 September, the same ministerial departmentsent a letter to Turan saying that the agency did not have any tax debts nor any penalty sanctions imposed on them. Curiously enough, all the letters were signed by the same official – Deputy Director of the Department of Local Income, Elman Bashirov.
The director of the Turan news agency, Mehman Aliyev, said that the decision of the Ministry of Taxes was a ‘political order’.
“Everything is crystal clear. This is a result of political pressure. They are punishing us for our activity,” said Mehman Aliyev in an interview with Meydan TV.
“What happened in the ministry on those days and how to explain the fact that one and the same ministry did a 180 without any explanations or reasons is something we can’t do,” the Turan news agency said in an announcement.
Social media users put out several versions as to why there has been such a drastic change in the position of the authorities. The main version is the discontent of the authorities over the cold reception received by President Ilham Aliyev in the USA.
The President of Azerbaijan is currently in the USA and is participating in the 72nd annual session of the General Assembly of the UN. He has not met any official representatives of the Trump administration while attending.
“On the run up to his trip to the USA, Aliyev made several ‘gestures of good will’, counting on a favorable attitude from the West. However, he was not given a meeting with either President Trump nor with the Secretary of State. It is possible that the administration of the president was offended by such a cold reception and decided to cancel its ‘gesture of good will’,” writes one social media user.