Azerbaijan 🇦🇿 is a transcontinental country located at the boundary between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It was formerly part of the Soviet Union and its primary religion is Islam.

General censorship[]

  • The mainstream television, by which Azerbaijanis receive news coverage, is unswervingly pro-government and under strict government control. Practically, it is a mouthpiece for Aliyev's government.
  • Pluralism in the media is extremely limited.
  • All ethnic Armenians are banned from travelling within Azerbaijan. Armenian passport holders are refused entry to Azerbaijan.

Book censorship[]

  • When entering the Azerbaijan, any copy of The Bible will be confiscated by the bordawtrter patrol guards.

Internet censorship[]

The Internet in Azerbaijan is controlled by the government and has been fairly obvious about systematic government filtering or blocking of the Internet, the government also maintains a heavy-handed approach to political opposition in online forums.

As of 2014, Freedom House reports the Azerbaijani government does not engage in systematic filtering or blocking of the Internet. There are numerous reports of temporary issues with accessing some websites during protests in parts of the country. Freedom House ranked Azerbaijan as partially free, noting that the social media sites are blocked, political websites are blocked, and bloggers and journalists are arrested.

Activists and journalists who post critical content about the government have been arrested. In 2014, eight activists from the N!DA and Free Youth movements were arrested for organising online protests in 2013, eventually receiving jail sentences ranging from six to eight years.

Cases of blogger and journalists arrests in Azerbaijan abound. The editor in chief of the online news outlet Azadxeber.net was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2013. The charges included the distribution of religious literature, making public calls to overthrow the constitutional regime, and incitement of ethnic hatred.

Hilal Mammadov, a human rights defender and editor of the newspaper Tolishi Sado, was arrested on June 21, 2012 and sentenced to 5 years in prison after he shared a popular video on YouTube entitled "Ti kto takoy, davay dosvidaniya!" (Who are you? See you, goodbye!). Mammadov posted a comment under the video stating that it had made Azerbaijan more popular than the government had been able to in their efforts regarding the Eurovision Song Contest. He was arrested soon after, and charged with illegal drug possession, treason, and incitement to national, racial, social and religious hatred and hostility.

There are several reported cases of people arrested because of content posted online. The author of the Web site www.pur.gen.az, infamous for its biting humorous content, posted a caricature of the president of Azerbaijan in 2006. In 2007, the Ministry of National Security searched one of the Internet cafés in Baku and discovered this caricature on the cache page. The author and the webmaster of the site, as well as several café guests, were arrested and indicted for organised criminal activities. The individuals were released several days later, but the Web site was shut down by its owners in order to avoid further prosecution.

The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, an exclave of Azerbaijan, closed down Internet cafés for several days in March 2008, according to the Azerbaijani press. The reasons behind the ban remain unclear, but restrictive policies on seeking and distributing information in the republic are not isolated cases. At the end of 2008, a number of Web sites were locally blocked in Nakhchivan. In 2013, the government again shut down the majority of Internet cafés in the Nakhchivan region, and café owners reported that orders to shut down came from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Nakhchivan.

The ongoing cyberwar between Azerbaijani and Armenian hackers has also caused disruptions to some websites and ISPs. In early 2007, five Armenian websites were inaccessible, and users were shown a block page commenting on the political affiliation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. At the same time, the Web site of the Azerbaijani Public Television ITV was taken down. Since most of the allegedly inaccessible sites contained oppositional political content, there are allegations that the Azerbaijani government was involved in the attacks. However, ONI testing could not confirm these suspicions. The ONI did not test for political issues related to the proclaimed independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

As Azerbaijan clashed with Armenia in 2020, the government shutdown all social media and communication for its citizens.

Blocked sites[]

  • www.susmayaq.biz
  • www.day.az/forum
  • tinsohbeti.com
  • At Internet cafés, many owners impose restrictions that prevent users from downloading large attachments and visiting certain pornographic sites. These policies are not universal, and are implemented at the discretion of café owners.
  • At businesses, most employers limit access to the Internet through the use of intelligent firewalls restricting the downloading of files with certain extensions (.mp3, .avi, .mpg, .mov, etc.), as well as access to storage file servers and to the servers of instant messaging clients such as ICQ, MSN, Skype, and others. On 12 May 2017, after independent opposition news sites were blocked in Azerbaijan, all calls via the Internet were blocked entirely (or as limited as possible in terms of speed of access to services). At the same time, no official statements were made by the government of the Republic. The following blocked services were:
    • Facebook
    • Instagram
    • LinkedIn
    • Skype
    • Telegram
    • TikTok
    • Twitter
    • WhatsApp
    • YouTube
    • Zoom

Movie censorship[]

Any film that paints Armenians in a positive light is banned, due to the fact that Azerbaijan lost the Nagorno-Karabakh war against Armenia, making the demonisation of Armenians state policy (as well as denying the existence of the Armenian Genocide, like the neighbouring Turkey does).

  • Hostage - this movie by Azeri director Eldar Guliev, which tells the story of an Armenian hostage during the Nagorno-Karabakh war, was banned as it showed an Armenian in a positive light.

Television censorship[]

  • Any show not in Azeri language, including Russian and Turkish language shows, are banned in Azerbaijan since 2009. Russian was common in the country due to it being formerly part of the Soviet Union and Turkish is similar to Azeri, making many TV shows being in these languages in the country, which was felt by the government as undermining the predominance of the Azeri language and culture.

Video game censorship[]

External links[]

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