The week of 1-5 of November saw blogger Elchin Hasanzadeh be released, new amendments to the tax code, and a hack attack on Toplum TV, an independent online media. We also published a portrait of Loren, an openly trans woman in Azerbaijan.
Local blogger released after 8 months of detention
Blogger Elchin Hasanzadeh, who was detained for eight months for insult and slander, was released this week.
He claims he was punished by a direct order of the head of the executive power of Mingachevir city, Ilham Ismayilov, for publicizing disorder, official arbitrariness, and corruption in the city’s administration.
Hasanzadeh affirmed that he will continue to “fight against a tribe of corrupt and oppressive officials”. A complaint has been filed with the European Court of Human Rights over the blogger’s arrest.
Tax Code: Milli Majlis discussed proposed amendments
During this week, the Milli Majlis, Azerbaijan’s national assembly, discussed potential new regulations to the country’s Tax Code.
Two proposed amendments draw attention. First, the excise rates on alcohol and cigarettes can be increased. The second one is the end of VAT (value-added tax) for books and media products.
If both are approved, Azerbaijanis will have more accessibility to books but notice higher prices on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes.
Hack attack on Toplum TV
Toplum TV, which has been operating in Azerbaijan since October 2016 as an independent media outlet, producing news, interviews and reports on daily events, experienced a hack attack on their Facebook account on 3 November.
The hackers managed to delete some videos from the channel, including programs with opposition parties’ members and the page’s likes and followers.
Alasgar Mammadli, founder of Toplum TV, believes the incident is politically motivated and demanded a thorough investigation by the authorities.
How is it to be an openly trans woman in Azerbaijan?
LGBT+ persons in Azerbaijan have always faced various forms of persecution and pressure, trans people perhaps more than anyone else. Most of them forced into sex work since no one will hire them for other jobs.
To call attention to this issue, we talked with one of the few trans women in the country who is able be openly trans and to work in another field. Loren lives in the city of Sumgait and works as a stylist at a beauty salon.
In the video, Loren talks about her experience as a trans woman in Azerbaijan, the struggles and prejudices she faces in her daily life, and how she navigates this discriminatory environment.