Arrest of journalist Rauf Mirkadirov

April 20, 2014
 

RAUF MIRKADIROV, A SPY OR TOTAL BAN TO CONTACT ARMENIA STATEMENT OF THE INSTITUTE FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY

 
 
The charge brought against Rauf Mirkadirov, a renowned investigative journalist of the leading Russian-language newspaper Zerkalo, under Article 274 of the AR Criminal Code (high treason and espionage, term of punishment from 10 years in prison till life term) evidently signifies the rule of repressions of the authoritarian regime and the total ban to public diplomacy and any other contacts with the civil society of Armenia.
 
Rauf Mirkadirov actively participated in the numerous joint projects between the Institute for Peace and Democracy and Armenian NGOs, many times visited Armenia both together with our staff and alone.
 
During three years R. Mirkadirov lived and worked in Ankara as a Zerkalo journalist accredited in Turkey. He regularly wrote analytical articles on the front page and, in the meantime, participated in the Azerbaijani-Armenian public diplomacy projects.
 
Azerbaijan has the obligations on peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict to the CoE. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group keep on calling for intensification of public diplomacy (suffice it to recall the recent statements of James Warlick, the US Co-Chair of Minsk Group, necessitating such contacts) and revival of contacts between the civil societies of the two countries. Given the fact that the efforts of the official authorities have yielded no peace-making results within 20 years after the cease-fire was signed, and the fact that the two countries are intensifying propaganda of a foreign dangerous enemy, the efforts of civil society activists for cooperation are highly important. The importance of such efforts is comprehended by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Germany), the British and Polish Embassies in Armenia and Azerbaijan, the EU and other international organizations and foundations supporting the joint Azerbaijani-Armenian projects. The EU has recently initiated the European Partnership for the Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh (EPNK), the initiative combining efforts of 5 international organizations (Conciliation Resources, Crisis Management Initiative, International Alert, the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation and LINKS). EPNK mainly focuses on transformation of the Karabakh conflict through a number of peace-making endeavors, including meetings and projects of the two nations (for more information visit www.epnk.org).
 
After President Ilham Aliyev had risen to power, it became impossible for NGOs to hold conferences in Azerbaijan with participation of Armenian colleagues. Over the past 10 years the joint meetings have become possible only outside Azerbaijan, particularly in Armenia.
 
The treason and espionage charges brought against investigative journalist Rauf Mirkadirov, the active participant of conferences in Armenia and the projects implemented jointly with Armenian NGOs, are putting an end to visits of the civil society activists of Azerbaijan to Armenia and to enhancement of public diplomacy and civil society in Azerbaijan.
 
Dr. Leyla Yunus
Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour
Winner of the International Theodor-Haecker-Prize
Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy
 
P.S. R. Mirkadirov is now kept in the Pretrial Detention Facility of the Ministry of National Security. The investigation is conducted by Ibrahim Lemberanski, an investigator of the Criminal Investigation Department for Grave Crimes of the General Prosecutor’s Office. R. Mirkadirov was detained right after he came off the plane from Turkey at 17.00 on April 19, 2014, on Saturday. He is deprived of the possibility to see his lawyer Fuad Agayev till Monday.

 

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