Sunday, February 22, 2009

Update on day.az

The case of day.az has has gotten the attention of diplomats & people concerned with freedom of speech in Azerbaijan. As one of the comments posted on the Flying Carpets and Broken Pipelines blog points out, day.az was never a font of anti-government agitation. That doesn't diminish the import of its closure.

The latest information I have on the case comes from the site itself. It's not up - but the following information is provided when you try to find the site:

Сайт временно закрыт по техническим причинам.

25 февраля Day.Az возвращается.

In other words, - "The site is temporarily closed for technical reasons. Day.Az is returning on February 25."

We'll see.

Even if it does return, the site has lost thousands of dollars. If day.az does return, it will be changed. Look at what happened with ANS.

In 2006, ANS, Azerbaijan's first private television company, was temporarily closed by the government. Before its closure, ANS carried programs that challenged the status quo in Azerbaijan, carrying material produced by Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). After the closure, the television company remained independent in name, but it was chastened by the experience, and its content now does not stray into any territory that might be perceived to be anti-government.

I expect the same will happen with day.az, if the news portal does become operational again.