Azerbaijan

Rasim Aliyev

09 August 2015

The 31-year-old independent journalist died of injuries he sustained when supporters of a local soccer player attacked him in retaliation for criticism posted on a Facebook page.

After the attack and while in the hospital on August 8, Rasim Aliyev gave an interview to Meydan TV. He said everything started when he criticized the football player Cavid Huseynov for his behavior after his Azerbaijani club team, Qabala FK, played the Cypriot club Apollon in Cyprus in a UEFA Europa League match on July 30. Journalist Aliyev wrote on his Facebook page that he did not want “someone this amoral, impertinent, and unable to control himself to represent me on European soccer fields.” Following his comment, the journalist received a call from someone claiming to be Huseynov’s cousin, who yelled and swore at him on the phone before inviting him to present his apologies.

After getting out of his car to shake hands, he was suddenly attacked from behind and knocked to the ground, kicked and beaten by six men for about 40 seconds. The perpetrators took his phone and wallet and ran away in different directions. Rasim, who used as director for the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), one of Azerbaijan’s leading media-freedom organizations until it was forced to shut down last year after its bank account was frozen, died shortly afterwards in the hospital.

The authorities said “a criminal case was launched into the incident and an investigation is underway”.

The IRFS office in Baku condemned the attack, saying “We strongly believe that Rasim Aliyev has been targeted due to his work for our organisation.”