Azeri Media Assaults Blogger Over Exposé on Presidential Aide Wife’s SOCAR Feud

Azeri blogger Tural Sadigly (l) faces backlash from mainstream media outlets for revealing that presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev’s (c) wife, Aygun Huseynova (r), is asserting power within SOCAR. The Azeri Herald


June 1, 2024

In a startling turn of events, Tural Sadigly, a popular blogger and host of the widely-followed YouTube channel Azad Soz (Free Speech) based in Europe, has found himself at the center of a media storm after disclosing an internal quarrel between top executives at the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR). The feud, involving SOCAR President Rovshan Najaf and Aygun Huseynova, head of the company’s communication department and wife of presidential assistant Hikmat Hajiyev, has triggered a wave of accusations from mainstream media outlets, many of which are believed to be under Hajiyev’s influence.

Sadigly’s exposé, which delved into the intricacies of the dispute and its implications for SOCAR’s operations, was met with fierce backlash. Media outlets, purportedly aligned with Hikmat Hajiyev, have launched a barrage of attacks against the blogger, accusing him of accepting bribes from Azerbaijani government officials to undermine their rivals. These allegations seem to imply that Sadigly’s true target is Hajiyev himself.

In his response, Sadigly expressed astonishment at the intensity of the response, noting that criticism against Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev typically does not provoke such a vehement reaction. “It’s bizarre that even when we criticize the President, we don’t see this level of backlash. But when it comes to Hajiyev, the response is overwhelming,” Sadigly remarked in a recent video.

The coordinated media campaign has boldly declared that thanks to “reforms and transparency” in Azerbaijan’s media sector, outlets previously manipulated by certain officials have been “neutralized.” This statement, widely seen as a veiled reference to Hajiyev’s efforts to silence domestic critics, suggests that these officials are now resorting to overseas-based bloggers and websites to air their grievances. The narrative insinuates that these officials, and their foreign collaborators, are on the verge of being exposed and held accountable. This sentiment was echoed by an Azerbaijani MP, whose comments were also published by the mainstream outlets involved.

Hikmat Hajiyev, who continues to maintain significant access to international media and government circles, including the U.S. Department of State (DoS), has faced numerous allegations of misconduct, corruption, and breaches of integrity. Notably, a website critical of Hajiyev has recently been subjected to cyber-attacks and access restrictions within Azerbaijan, further intensifying the controversy surrounding him.

The U.S. Department of State, when contacted about the allegations against Hajiyev during his recent visit, declined to comment on the specific accusations. However, a spokesperson confirmed that human rights concerns in Azerbaijan were discussed with him, and he was urged to advocate for the swift release of imprisoned dissidents. Despite these assurances, the situation in Azerbaijan remains dire. Shortly after Hajiyev’s meeting with the DoS, an Azerbaijani journalist was assaulted, and an economist detained. Moreover, a recent presidential decree in Azerbaijan failed to secure the release of political prisoners, suggesting that the messages conveyed by the DoS through Hajiyev may have been ignored or dismissed. The DoS has been approached for further comment.

Hajiyev is also accused of misleading President Ilham Aliyev, adding another layer of complexity to the ongoing saga. As internal fighting escalates between the factions within the Azeri government, it remains to be seen how these developments will impact Azerbaijan’s political landscape and its relations with the global community.

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