Moscow-Baku tensions growing as Russia blocks four Azerbaijani media outlets
Russia blocks Azerbaijani news websites
After the start of Russia‘s military aggression against Ukraine, the Azerbaijani media, controlled by the country’s authorities, took a clear pro-Ukrainian stance. In the month since the start of the war, Roskomnadzor has blocked access to four Azerbaijani news sites. In response, official Baku threatened to take adequate measures against Russian media disseminating information directed against Azerbaijan.
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What is happening?
Over the past weekend alone, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan twice “corrected the mistakes” made by the Russian Ministry of Defense. If in the first case it was more about the terminological mistakes made by the Russian side, then on March 27, the Azerbaijani defense department practically caught their Russian colleagues in a lie.
The tension between the countries, whose leaders recently signed a memorandum on allied cooperation on February 22, 2022, is also growing in the field of media.
The reason for this was the open support for Ukraine of the Azerbaijani media, including media outlets controlled by the government. On Azerbaijani television, radio and electronic media, the war in Ukraine is covered in the utmost detail, Azerbaijani journalists broadcast from Kyiv and Lviv. In the reports of Azerbaijani journalists, Russian troops are openly called occupiers.
Such anti-Russian rhetoric of the Azerbaijani media did not go unnoticed in Moscow.
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Roskomnadzor has blocked access to four Azerbaijani news sites – haqqin.az, minval.az, oxu.az and baku.ws.
Official Baku, in turn, did not leave this step of the Russian authorities without attention.
Baku hints at reciprocal measures
The Ministry of Digital Development and Transport of Azerbaijan has warned websites disseminating information directed against the interests of the country.
The issue of limiting the activity of any site within the country and abroad is regulated by the legislation of Azerbaijan, the ministry recalled.
“If information directed against the interests, territorial integrity, and legislation of the country is published on these resources, appropriate measures can be taken in connection with the activities of these websites”, the ministry said, commenting on the possibility of taking response measures amid the restrictions imposed on some Azerbaijani sites in Russia.
Statement of Azerbaijani Press Council
In connection with the ban on access to some Azerbaijani news sites in Russia, the Press Council of Azerbaijan issued a statement.
“The media of Azerbaijan are blocked by the Russian Federation.
The reason is obvious. Russia is not satisfied with the reports of the Azerbaijani media about Ukraine, the objective position they take in the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Russia clearly neglects freedom of speech and expression and pluralism. This is a dismissive approach to principles and norms, to universal human values accepted on an international scale. At the same time, this is a restriction of the right of the Russian society to receive objective information, to the correct conclusion, to get acquainted with an alternative opinion”, the Azerbaijani Press Council said in a statement.
According to political observer Agshin Kerimov, Russia uses the same information bombs against the Azerbaijani press that it uses in the war against Ukraine.
“Russia has blocked on its territory three Azerbaijani websites that publish analytical materials on the war in Ukraine and broadcast the most up-to-date news about Russian aggression.
Just pay attention to who is doing this – the same Russia that has spit on all the principles of journalism, always adhering to the line of distorting information for the sake of the interests of its imperial propaganda.
With its methods of agitation, the Russian press itself carries extraordinary functions. We’ve been seeing this for years now. During the 44-day war, materials full of unreliable filth against Azerbaijan were published in the media, which turned into a propaganda tool for the Kremlin.
I don’t even want to name those sites and TV channels that are known to everyone by the level of their unscrupulousness and arrogance. But even despite this, during the days of the 44-day war, Azerbaijan did not block access to these media, which were waging an ideological struggle against our country. Because Azerbaijan was right in its struggle and the lies that bothered everyone looked very small in the light of this.
And what is the Azerbaijani press doing, those websites blocked by Russia? They simply convey to their readers the simplest truth, refer to official sources. These media operate on the principles of journalism and analytical composure, and have not joined the anti-Russian agitation.
Russia wants to take revenge on the West for the lost information war by blocking Azerbaijani websites. And thus, it is not Azerbaijan that loses, but Russia itself.
We have a proverb: no matter how strong vinegar is, it will only harm its vessel. And this proverb describes Moscow perfectly well today.
It would be nice if Russia moderated its zeal a little, created a mechanism for working with the press, and instead of blocking websites, increased the number of its newsletters. It is not good to throw out all your anger for the economic and military losses due to the war in Ukraine on Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has long developed immunity to such phenomena, and in the end it is Russia that will have to retreat. Therefore, it would be worth canceling the unfair decision”, said Kerimov.