The authorities and pro-government media present the move as “deepening reforms” " />

Azerbaijani president fires country’s ‘chief censor’, replaces several members of team

The authorities and pro-government media present the move as “deepening reforms”

Ilham Aliyev fired one of the country’s most unpopular officials of the mainstream media and the foe of independent journalists, Ali Hasanov.  

The president has also changed out other members of his team.

These changes took place over the course of several hours on the evening of November 29.

Pro-government sites say this was done to “deepen reforms,”

The news has been a surprise for the public, given the length of time Hasanov has been in power. 

Who is Ali Hasanov, and why were many so pleased with his departure?

The most striking event was the dismissal of Ali Hasanov, the assistant to the president for socio-political issues.  

Among other things, his duties included “watching” the media.  Under him, Azerbaijan slid almost to the bottom (163rd place) in the world ranking of freedom of speech, and measures were taken that severely limited the activity of foreign media. Accordingly, many Azerbaijani journalists did not like Ali Hasanov very much, and frankly rejoiced when he was fired.

“Too much negativity is associated with this name. Too many problems in the country’s public life are attributed to this person, who for many years stood at the head of the country’s ideological front.

“The elimination of Ali Hasanov means the inevitable reform of the entire ideological system, the elimination of a huge army of parasites in the face of stupid and senseless media, NGOs and a herd of trolls sitting on the neck of the state and corrupting the moral atmosphere,” wrote Turan website.

On social media, Ali Hasanov was called the “father of trolls”, implying that he was the one who managed the Internet trolls who praise the government and attack those who voice complaints online. 

Ali Hasanov (

Ali Hasanov himself claims that he has been asking the president for three years to relieve him of his position for health reasons.  Hasanov says that now he “will be engaged in creativity” and “will remain an Aliyevist,” that is, a loyal supporter of President Aliyev’s policies.

Together with Hasanov, the entire department headed by him “left”.  Instead, a department for political parties and the legislature was created. It will be headed by Adalat Veliyev, who had not previously been involved in politics at all, but was the director of a theater.

New faces in an old administration

 New leaders have also been appointed to other departments of the presidential administration.

Some of them are officials who previously held other high positions, but were not part of the president’s team.

 For example, the former Executive Director of the State Oil Fund, Shakhmar Movsumov, is now the head of the department of economic issues and innovative development.

In fact, the changes in the presidential administration have not been so significant, however the public has been surprised by the new appointments of fresh faces and the creation of new departments as well. 

Moreover, officials in Azerbaijan used to change very rarely, and recently they have been “shuffled” every now and then, moreover, several people at a time.

Public reaction

Azerbaijani social networks and even many experts are already accustomed to reacting more with humor than seriously.  This was the case this time as well.

Although some have still attempted to analyze the situation, and they agreed that this is not an issue of reforms. 

Some comments:

“I do not understand those who believe that these are reforms.  No need to expect that this will change people’s lives for the better. It is more logical to fear how things will get worse. The country and the system are in such a state that “reforms” should begin with the departure of the first person [ed. Aliyev] with his entire team.”

“When something goes wrong, you need to change old officials out for new ones, and not rearrange them and wait for this to take effect.”

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