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Ganimat Zahidov

Ganimat Zahidov

HRD, Journalist
Reporters Without Borders Press freedom prize

Ganimat Zahidov is a chief editor of the newspaper Azadlig (“freedom” in Azerbaijani), which was founded in 1989. As one of the remaining independent news sources on Azerbaijan, it reports about mass media restrictions and human rights violations committed in the country. In November 2007 he was arrested on a trumped-up charge of hooliganism and he was sentenced to four years in prison, but he was released on 11 March 2010. After his release, he and his family members were seriously threatened and subsequently fled to France in 2011. In exile, Ganimat Zahidov continued to run "Azadlig" and launched a television program “Azerbaijan Hour” which is broadcast by satellite for a few hours each week. "Azadlig" reports on trials of Azerbaijani human rights defenders detained during the 2014 crackdown on civil society in Azerbaijan.


The space for human rights defenders (HRDs) and NGOs has been steadily shrinking in Azerbaijan. A number of legislative amendments have been adopted in recent years that restrict the work of HRDs and put their activities under strict governmental control. The roundup of the most prominent HRDs and their subsequent trials and imprisonment indicate that Azerbaijan is well on the road towards authoritarianism, seemingly adopting a Russian-style contempt of civil society.