While the establishment of the Permanent Commission is a positive step, by itself it is an inadequate measure for promoting freedom of the press. Since the authorities have held no one accountable for the attacks and harassment against journalists, a climate of impunity for such intimidation and violence persists. At the same time, a host of other problems continue to hamper the independent and opposition media. These include the proliferation of civil and criminal defamation suits, the governments pattern of informal manipulation of media broadcasters, newspaper distribution networks, and printing presses, and other forms of control and intimidation.
On October 17, the Azerbaijan state printing press refused to print six opposition newspapers, Azadliq, Yeni Musavat, Baki Khaber, Hurriet, Yeni Zaman, and Novoe Vremya.55 Yeni Musavat representatives reported that the management of the printing press told them that their employees refused to print the opposition newspaper because it is against the government. They also said that they were suspending printing because of debts owed by the opposition newspapers to the printing press.56
Of the handful of private printing presses, only one, Chap Evi, agreed to print the opposition newspapers. Several printing houses told representatives of Yeni Musavat that they had been ordered by the authorities not to print the Musavat opposition newspaper, or that they feared retribution from the government if they were to print it.57
For six days in November, the opposition newspapers were not printed for lack of paper. Prior to the election, paper for newsprint cost up to U.S. $500 per ton. After the election, paper prices soared, reaching over U.S. $1,000 per ton by November.58 Opposition newspapers accused the government of increasing paper prices through manipulating supply to create an artificial shortage of paper. One opposition newspaper editor, reflecting a view common among the opposition, claimed that the government allegedly controlled the import of paper and held large stocks of paper in storage, not making it available to buyers.59 By the end of February 2004, paper prices had stabilized to between U.S. $650-700, still significantly higher than prior to the elections.60
In January 2004, the Azerbaijan state printing press agreed to resume printing the opposition newspapers.61
Azerbaijani law provides for moral damages in cases involving defamation. The civil code grants individuals the right to recover damages caused by the dissemination of information harming the honor, dignity or business reputation of a natural person.62 In a May 2002 decision, the Constitutional Court clarified that damages included moral and material harm.63 The court affirmed trial court judges discretion to assign damages, and while it set no financial parameters, it ruled that judges should take into account the character and degree of moral and physical suffering as well as the guilt of the respondent, his/her financial position and other important aspects. While affirming the right of individuals to defend their honor and dignity, it also noted the states obligation to protect freedom of expression.
Prior to the elections in 2003, the growing number of civil cases against opposition newspapers, usually brought by government officials or those close to them, resulted in cripplingly high fines, and seemed aimed at silencing criticism and threatening the viability of media outlets.64 This indicates the need for the law to be revised to ensure that it cannot be used to such ends.
With regard to the trend of assessing prohibitive damages, a committee of the Council of Europes Parliamentary Assembly stated:
[M]ajor opposition newspapers faced lawsuits as a result of their criticism of government officials and for publishing information on corruption and financial scandals. As a result, shockingly high and disproportionate fines were imposed by the local courts. In some cases, this led to the interruption of publication of newspapers forced into bankruptcy Taking into consideration the pre-election context and being aware of the problems linked to the independence of the judiciary in Azerbaijan, as well as of the traditional objection to criticism by the leadership, the co-rapporteurs cannot but suspect an obvious effort to silence criticism expressed by opposition media.65
Commenting in September 2003 on fines imposed on the Yeni Musavat newspaper as a result of libel cases, the OSCE and Council of Europe stated that the fines were disproportionate and might undermine the financial viability of this newspaper. We are all the more worried that this may discourage critical reporting at a time when media pluralism and the full and unhindered exercise of press freedoms will be essential in the run up to the forthcoming presidential elections.66
In the same statement, the OSCE and Council of Europe went on to recommend that the authorities review the provisions concerning libel contained in the Azerbaijani law in accordance with international standards, in particular article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Azerbaijan is a party.67
There is no evidence that the Azerbaijani government has acted on this recommendation. Indeed the situation since then has further deteriorated, with the excessive fines in libel cases threatening the closure of several newspapers.
For example, in August 2003, the Sabail District Court in Baku had ordered that the bank accounts of Yeni Musavat be frozen as a measure to ensure payment of fines imposed on the newspaper as a result of several libel cases. The fines from these cases, brought by government officials and employees, amounted to over U.S. $100,000, a vast amount in a country where the national average wage is approximately U.S. $65 per month.68
Although the newspaper was under huge financial burdens from these court decisions, it was able to keep operating on a day-to-day basis, using the income from daily sales of the newspaper to fund the running costs. However, in January 2004, the Sabail District Court made a further order to intercept payments from the newspapers distributors, and direct them to the payment of the court fines. This order was implemented in late February, threatening the very existence of the opposition newspaper.69 By late May, the newspapers bank accounts remained frozen and funds continued to be diverted directly from their accounts for payment of the fines. The newspaper was still being published, but with a significantly reduced circulation.70 Due to the financial pressures on the newspaper, the journalists were not receiving regular wages.
On March 16, journalists from Yeni Musavat started a hunger strike in protest of what they saw as pressure on the newspaper from the authorities and the demand to repay the excessive fines.71
The national daily opposition newspaper Azadliq has faced similar problems, but on a smaller scale. Its bank accounts were frozen in November 2003 by court order, also in relation to unpaid fines imposed for libel suits, amounting to over U.S. $10,000.72
At the end of February 2004, the opposition Hurriet newspaper was also suffering severe financial difficulties, at least in part because of fines imposed as a result of libel cases. Journalists were not receiving regular wages due to the financial hardships of the newspaper.73 On March 15, Hurriet was forced to suspend publication (see below).74
These financial pressures have had a significant impact on the independent and opposition press, leading to a reduction in circulation of many newspapers and the closure or suspension of operations of others.75
According to Gabil Abbasoglu, the deputy chief editor of Yeni Musavat, the cost to produce one newspaper in February 2004 was between 25 and 35 per cent higher than it had been prior to the election.76 He estimated that due to the financial difficulties of the newspaper, circulation had dropped from between 20-30,000 copies before the elections to 18,000 after the elections, and to approximately 8,000 by late May 2004.77
Hurriets circulation dropped from 8,000 in December 2003, to 3,000 in February 2004. Due to the financial burdens on the newspaper, and government harassment leading to difficulties distributing and selling the newspaper outside of Baku, the newspaper suspended publishing on March 15 and had not yet resumed as of mid- 2004.78
Financial difficulties, particularly the difficulty in obtaining advertising, forced Avropa to suspend publishing in October 2003. By May 2004, the newspaper had not yet resumed publication.79
Nonfinancial pressures also led the independent press to suspend publications. In the last week of February 2004, Monitor, a weekly independent magazine, was not able to publish, since their contractor for developing color photographs refused to print the original photographs for that weeks edition. The contractor told representatives of Monitor that they had received a visit from local officials who warned them not to continue working with Monitor.80
The largest printing press in the country is the state-owned Azerbaijan printing press. There are a handful of privately owned printing presses, however their refusal to publish opposition newspapers following the 2003 election made clear that they are either unwilling or unable to act independently of the government.81 The Azerbaijan printing press has also refused to publish the weekly independent magazine Monitor,82 and on several occasions has refused to publish opposition newspapers.
The only printing press prepared to publish newspapers that were out of favor with the government since the election was the Chap Evi printing press. However, during this period the authorities have put Chap Evi itself under pressure.
On January 7, 2004, the electricity supply to the printing press premises was turned off. According to Shalbaz Khuduoglu, the director of Chap Evi, the leadership of Azerneftgaz, which supplied the electricity for the area where the printing press was located, informed him that electricity would no longer be supplied to his premises.83 Khuduoglu took the matter to the Republican Economic Court, and on February 13, the court ordered Barmek, the electricity network operator, and Azerneftgaz to turn the electricity back on. However, neither respondent fulfilled the court order and Chap Evi printing press remained without electricity.
In order to resume work, Khuduoglu bought a generator and the printing press resumed work on January 18. However, the cost of running the generator was approximately ten times that of using supplied electricity, and the working conditions were nearly intolerable. The noise from the generator was so loud that it was impossible to carry on a conversation in the printing press premises.84
On February 16, Khuduoglu received a letter from the landlord, Aidin Mustafeev, requesting that Chap Evi leave the premises because other businesses, employing approximately one 150, were operating on the same premises and were not able to continue work without electricity. The landlord, and other tenants, believed that they could restore the electricity supply if Chap Evi moved away.85 Chap Evi remained in the premises until mid-April, when their inability to restore their electricity supply forced them to move. By the end of May they had resumed work in another premise. According to Khuduoglu, electricity in their previous premises was immediately restored once Chap Evi moved out.86
Khuduoglu believed that the refusal to supply electricity to Chap Evi was a deliberate government attempt to close down his operations and therefore deny independent media the choice of independent publishing in Azerbaijan.87
Television is the most important source of news in Azerbaijan, with more than 90 percent of the population receiving their news from electronic media.88 There are five major national television stations: AzTV (the official state channel), Space TV, Lider TV, ATV, and ANS. Space TV, Lider TV and ATV are reportedly controlled either by family members of President Aliev, or people close to the Aliev family.89 ANS is owned independently, and takes a pro-government stance in its programming.90
During the election campaign period, the programming of all the major television stations was biased in favor of the government. Although the Election Code required state media outlets to create equal conditions for all registered candidates, media monitoring clearly demonstrated how the government used state media for its own campaign.
According to the report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on the election, In the four weeks preceding the election, Ilham Aliyev received 2 hours and 35 minutes of coverage during prime time news on State TV, all positive or neutral in tone. Heydar Aliyev received some 46 minutes. In the same period, all other candidates combined received a total of only 12 seconds.91
The private channels- Lider TV, ANS, Space TV, and ATV- also displayed an overt bias in favor of Ilham Aliev and against opposition candidates.92
The television coverage of the post-election violence also displayed a lack of balance. The major channels showed repeated video footage of violence allegedly carried out by opposition members and failed to show the video footage available of police violence.93
When Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe in January 2001, it made a commitment to create an independent public television station.94 In response to this, the government created a working group to draft a bill on the creation of public television and after a delayed process, parliament adopted the bill on January 10, 2004.95 The bill was widely criticized by media rights organizations for failing to provide mechanisms to ensure the independence of the public television station.96
In particular, the bill provided for the president to appoint the head of the public television station, and for the funding to come directly from the government budget with no safeguards to ensure that funding is provided without conditions that could impede the independence of the broadcaster. The bill also required the public television station to broadcast all official statements immediately and without changes.97
After parliament adopted the bill, Council of Europe experts reviewed it, reportedly making comments on twenty-five of the articles.98 On March 3, President Aliev exercised his right to veto the law and sent it back to parliament, a move greeted positively by those critical of the bill.99 At the time of writing, an amended bill had not yet been passed by parliament.
Independent media is often blocked from accessing official information. Government ministries and other bodies have at times refuse to provide interviews to independent media outlets, which they perceive as being out of favor with the government, and fail to invite them to public and press events.100 At times, journalists have been harassed or punished for seeking information.101
From September 2003 until March 2004, journalists from the opposition newspaper Azadliq and Yeni Musavat were refused access to parliament to report on parliamentary sessions According to media rights observers, the authorities claim that these newspapers wrote insulting articles about members of parliament and therefore were refused access to parliament.102 Both newspapers continue to face problems with access to the building housing the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party, and so cannot attend briefings when government officials hold them there.103
Since the elections the authorities, in breach of the right to freedom of assembly, have denied journalists permission to hold protests and police have beaten those who attempted to protest.
On January 30, the Committee for the Defense of Rauf Arifoglu, the chief editor of Yeni Musavat and deputy head of Musavat party, wrote to the City Mayors office requesting permission to hold a demonstration on February 5, in front of the General Procurators Office to protest the arrest of the chief editor of Yeni Musavat. On February 4, they received an answer, denying them permission, stating that Arifoglus court case would be held soon and there was no basis for holding a protest.104
On February 6, 2004, representatives of the opposition daily newspaper Hurriet requested permission from the City Mayors Office to hold a protest on February 11, in front of the General Prosecutors Office. They wanted to protest the arrest of Rauf Arifoglu and Sadiq Ismailov, the Baku Khaber journalist, and demand their release. Both were in custody on charges relating to the post-election violence.105
On February 11, the City Mayors office denied them permission to hold the protest. Approximately thirty journalists decided to go ahead with the protest, and as they approached the General Procuarators office, a large group of police blocked their path. As they tried to move on, police beat the protesters and arrested four of them, including the chief editor of Hurriet, Vuqar Mammedov. The four were held for several hours. They were tried by a local court on petty charges of insubordination to police, and fined and warned, and then released.106
 Human Rights Watch interview with Gabil Abbasoglu, deputy chief editor of Yeni Musavat, Baku, February 25, 2004. Azerbaijan Press freedom curtailed since Ilham Alievs election as president, December 10, 2003, Reporters without Borders, [online] http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=8769 (retrieved August). 2003 Azerbaijan Press Freedom Review, International Press Institute, [online] http://www.freemedia.at/wpfr/Europe/azerbaij.htm (retrieved August 2, 2004).
 Human Rights Watch interview with Gabil Abbasoglu, Baku, February 25, 2004. Human Rights Watch interview with Elchin Shikhlinsky, chief editor of Zerkalo (The Mirror), an independent, Russian-language daily newspaper, Baku, March 1, 2004. According to Reporters Without Borders, however, the Azerbaijan printing press continued to print government and pro-government newspapers that were equally indebted. Azerbaijan Press freedom curtailed since Ilham Alievs election as president, December 10, 2003, Reporters without Borders, [online] http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=8769 (retrieved August 2, 2004).
 Human Rights Watch interview with Gabil Abbasoglu, deputy chief editor of Yeni Musavat, Baku, February 25, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Vuqar Mammedov, chief editor of Hurriet, Baku, February 20, 2004. Human Rights Watch interview with Gabil Abbasoglu, deputy chief editor of Yeni Musavat, Baku, February 25, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Vuqar Mammedov, chief editor of Hurriet, Baku, February 20, 2004.
 Ibid. Human Rights Watch interview with Gabil Abbasoglu, deputy chief editor of Yeni Musavat, Baku, February 25, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Gabil Abbasoglu, deputy chief editor of Yeni Musavat, Baku, February 25, 2004. Human Rights Watch interview with Elchin Shikhlinsky, chief editor of Zerkalo, Baku, March 1, 2004.
 Article 23 (4) of the Civil Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Article 23 (4) reads in full: Where information harming the honor, dignity or business reputation of a natural person is dissemination, such person has the right to recover damages caused by such dissemination and obtain a declaration that the information is untrue.
 Decision of the Constitutional Court of Azerbaijan Republic On Interpretation of Articles 21 and 23 of the Civil Code of Azerbaijan Republic, May 31, 2002 [online] www.constitutional-court.az.org/decisions (retrieved July 22, 2004).
 According to Azer Hasret of CASCFEN, government and pro-government media outlets have not faced this barrage of civil defamation cases. In the past opposition activists have attempting to bring claims against government and pro-government newspapers, however, the courts rejected the applications. Human Rights Watch e-mail correspondence with Azer Hasret, May 29, 2004.
 Functioning of Democratic Institutions in Azerbaijan, Report of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe, Document 10030, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, January 12, 2004.
 The Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media express concern about the situation of the media in Azerbaijan, September 10, 2004, [online] http://www.internews.az/eng/articles/20030910.shtml (retreived August 2, 2004). See also Media Rights Institute is Concerned about High Penalties, May 7, 2003, [online] http://internews/az/eng/articles/20030507.shtml (retrieved August 2, 2004).
 Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights grants the right to freedom of expression.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Gabil Abbasoglu, deputy chief editor of Yeni Musavat, Baku, February 25, 2004. Azerbaijan Human Development Report 2003, United Nations Development Program, at http://www.un-az.org/undp/nhdr2003/14.html.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Gabil Abbasoglu, deputy chief editor of Yeni Musavat, Baku, February 25, 2004. Yeni Muasvat Nears Shutdown, March 15, 2004, Turan Information Agency.
 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Gabil Abbasoglu, deputy chief editor of Yeni Musavat, May 28, 2004.
 The fines were as a result of libel actions brought by the Azerbaijan Ambassador to Turkey, former President Heydar Alievs brother, Agil Aliev, the Defence Ministry, school number 249, and Defense Minister Safar Abiev. Yeni Musavat Dailys Correspondents Continue Hunger Strike, March 17, 2004, Turan Information Agency.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Qanimat Zahidov, chief editor of Azadliq, Baku, February 26, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Vuqar Mammedov, chief editor of Hurriet, Baku, February 20, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Vuqar Mammedov, chief editor of Hurriet, May 31, 2004.
 Even newspapers that are not aligned to the opposition and refrain from content that is highly critical of the government have been suffering from a reduction in circulation. Sharq newspapers circulation at the beginning of March 2004 was approximately 3,500, whereas three years earlier it had been 14,000. Akif Ashirli, the chief editor of Sharq, believed that the downturn was due to the current economic position of the population, making it hard for them to afford to buy newspapers, and a general lack of trust in the print media. Human Rights Watch interview with Akif Ashirli, Baku, March 3, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Gabil Abbasoglu, deputy chief editor of Yeni Musavat Baku, February 25, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Gabil Abbasoglu, deputy chief editor of Yeni Musavat, May 28, 2004, Yeni Musavat Nears Shutdown, March 15, 2004, Turan Information Agency. Abbasoglu recognized that prior to the elections circulation was higher because of heightened public interest in political news. However, according to Abbasoglu, the usual circulation of the newspaper when there were no elections was between 17-18,000, thus showing a substantial drop by May 2004. Another factor in a reduction in circulation of opposition newspapers after the elections could be that the population became fearful to buy these newspapers and therefore to be seen to align themselves with the opposition when they were aware of the mass arrests and dismissals of opposition members, immediately following the elections. See Crushing Dissent, Human Rights Watch Report, January 2004, p.21.
 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Vuqar Mammadov, chief editor of Hurriet , May 31, 2004. Human Rights Watch e-mail correspondence with Fuad Hasanov, May 30, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Azer Karachenli, journalist with Avropa, Baku, February 25, 2004 and Human Rights Watch e-mail correspondence with Azer Hasret, CASCFEN, May 29, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Elmar Husseynov, chief editor of Monitor, Baku, February 26, 2004.
 See above Economic Pressures and Government Control of Resources.
 The chief editor is in a constantly precarious position, trying to find a reliable printing press to publish the magazine. At times he has resorted to using photocopiers to manually print editions. Human Rights Watch interview with Elmar Husseynov, chief editor of Monitor, Baku, February 26, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Shalbaz Khuduoglu, director of Chap Evi, Baku, February 26, 2004. Chap Evi Printing House Brings Action Against Barmek and Azerneftgaz, Turan Information Agency, posted on CASCFEN website on February 16, 2004 [online] http://www.cascfen.org/modules.php?name=News&files=articles&sid=1307 (retrieved August 2, 2004).
 Human Rights Watch interview with Shalbaz Khuduoglu, Baku, February 26, 2004. A Human Rights Watch researcher also observed the working of the printing press using the generator, February 26, 2004.
 Ibid. Chap Evi Printing House Brings Action Against Barmek and Azerneftgaz, Turan Information Agency, posted on CASCFEN website on February 16, 2004 [online] http://www.cascfen.org/modules.php?name=News&files=articles&sid=1307 (retrieved August 2, 2004).
 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Shahbaz Khuduoglu, May 28, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Shalbaz Khuduoglu, Baku, February 26, 2004. In the past, the Azerbaijani authorities have used their control over the supply of electricity to manipulate access to information. In 2000, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, electricity to the ANS television station was cut for fifteen minutes on July 14 in order to censor an interview with Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev that was being aired at the time because the government felt that the interview contained terrorist propaganda. Electricity cuts by regional authorities during opposition candidates' broadcasts were a common complaint of opposition parties in the final weeks before the November 2000 parliamentary elections. Representatives of Yeni Musavat complained to Human Rights Watch in February 2004 that their electricity supply was regularly interrupted in late 2003 and early 2004 in what they felt was an attempt by the authorities to disrupt the production of their newspaper.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Rashid Hajili, Media Rights Institute, February 26, 2004. Functioning of Democratic Institutions in Azerbaijan, Report of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe, paragraph 72, Document 10030, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, January 12, 2004
 Human Rights Watch interview with Rashid Hajili, Media Rights Institute, Baku, February 26, 2004. Azerbaijan Press freedom curtailed since Ilham Alievs election as president, December 10, 2003, Reporters without Borders, [online] http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=8769 (retrieved August 2, 2004).
 Commentators explain that ANS, as with any big business interests in Azerbaijan, is quickly influenced by the government because of the need to have good relations with tax inspectors, police, the courts, the procuracy and other government agencies. In addition, in order to obtain advertising, a major source of revenue for a television station, good relations with the government are also needed. Human Rights Watch interview with Rashid Hajili, Media Rights Institute, Baku, February 26, 2004. Human Rights Watch interview with Mehman Aliyev, head of Turan Information Agency, Baku, February 25, 2004.
 Republic of Azerbaijan Presidential Election 15 October 2003 OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission Report, p.12, OSCE, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Warsaw, November 12, 2003. Heydar Aliev was initially the incumbent presidential candidate in the elections. However, he had been seriously ill and not seen in public since April 2003, and his son, Ilham Aliev, took over the candidacy for the ruling party.
 According to data gathered by the OSCE from September 16 through October 13, 2003, Lider TV allocated ten hours and 51 minutes of its prime time news to Ilham Aliev, all positive in tone, but only 24 minutes of mainly negative coverage to the two opposition front-runners. Space TV allocated Aliev over five hours of positive primetime news coverage, and the opposition front-runners received 49 and 33 minutes of negative or neutral coverage. ANS allocated 40 minutes of primetime news coverage to Aliev that was positive or neutral and the opposition front-runners received a total of 13 minutes of mainly negative or neutral coverage. ATV allocated over 43 minutes of primetime news coverage to Aliev with a positive tone and one of the two leading opposition candidates received less then three minutes of primetime news coverage Republic of Azerbaijan Presidential Election 15 October 2003 OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission Report, p.13, OSCE, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Warsaw, November 12, 2003.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with a range of NGOs and opposition members in Baku between February 18 and March 5. See also Confederation of Journalists of Azerbaijan Calls on TV Channels to Observe Journalist Ethics, February 2, 2004, Turan Information Agency.
 Opinion No. 222 (2000), Azerbaijans application for membership of the Council of Europe,Article 14 (iv)(f) states that Azerbaijan undertakes to turn the national television channel into a public channel managed by an independent administrative board.
 Council of Europe Comments on 25 Articles of Law on Public TV, March 15, 2004, Turan Information Agency. Nobody Knows What New Law on Public Television to be Like, March 22, 2004, Turan Information Agency.
 See for example Statement by the Media Rights Institute: Draft Legislation on Public Television, December 25, 2003, [online] http://www.internews.az/eng/articles/20031225.shtml (retrieved August 2, 2004).
 Council of Europe Comments on 25 Articles of Law on Public TV, March 15, 2004, Turan Information Agency.
 Azeri President Imposes Veto on Public TV Law, Internews, March 10, 2004, [online] http://www.internews.az/eng/articles/20040310.shtml (retrieved August 2, 2004). Nobody Knows What New Law on Public Television to be Like, March 22, 2004, Turan Information Agency, and Internews Praises Ilham Aliyev, March 9, 2004, Turan Information Agency.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Qanimat Zahidov, chief editor of Azadliq, Baku, February 26, 2004. Human Rights Watch interview with Rashid Hajili, Media Rights Institute, Baku, February 26, 2004.
 On July 7, 2003, the Nizami District Court fined and convicted journalist, Rauf Mirgadirov from the independent daily Zerkalo newspaper for hooliganism after he asked the Mayor of Baku for the name of the contractor in charge of repairing a road that had remained closed for a long period of time. Journalist Penalized for Requesting Information, July 7, 2003, [online] http://www.internews.az/eng/articles/20030707.shtml (retrieved August 2, 2004).
 Human Rights Watch interview with Rashid Hajili, Media Rights Institute, Baku, February 26, 2004 and Human Rights Watch interview with Qanimat Zahidov, Baku, February 26, 2004. According to the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES), a media watchdog based in Moscow, on December 3, 2004, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was visiting Azerbaijan, gave a press conference in the Presidential Administration at which the Administrations press office did not allow opposition media to attend, claiming a lack of space. CJES Bulletin issue no. 49 (99), December 1-7, 2003.
 Human Rights Watch email communication with interview Rashid Hadjili, Media Rights Institute, August 2, 2004.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Yadigar Mamedli, head of the Committee for the Defense of Rauf Arifoglu, Baku, February 19 and 24, copy of the letter from the Committee to the City Mayors Office, dated January 30, 2004, on file with Human Rights Watch, copy of the letter from the City Mayors Office to the Committee, dated February 4, 2004, on file with Human Rights Watch.
 See Azerbaijan: Presidential Elections 2003, Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, [online] http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/eca/azerbaijan/index.htm (retrieved August 2, 2004).
 Human Rights Watch interview with Vuqar Mammedov, chief editor of Hurriet. Journalists beaten up, arrested and fined, CASCFEN with AJK, February 11, 2004, [online] http://www.cascfen.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1294 (retrieved on August 2, 2004). Since the elections, the City Mayors Office in Baku has consistently refused to give permission to opposition parties and affiliated groups to hold protests. In particular, they refused to grant permission to the opposition parties Musavat, Azerbaijan Democratic Party, and Popular Front of Azerbaijan-Reformers faction.