• Population: 8,297,000
  • Internet users: 300,000 (2002)
  • Average charge for 20 hours of connection: 40 euros
  • DAI*: 0.24
  • Situation**: middling

The Internet has grown slower than in other Caucasus countries, mainly because of the communications ministry's monopoly of long-distance phone traffic through the state-owned firm Aztelcom. Only three of the country's 14 ISPs can use their own satellite connection to access the Internet independently of state control.

The ministry itself offers Internet access through Bakinternet (www.bakinter.net). This situation, criticised by the Azerbaijan Internet Forum, interferes with competition between ISPs so that while connection charges at cybercafés are reasonable (less than one euro an hour), private access is prohibitive (40-50 euros a month for unlimited time online).

Pro-Chechen sites blocked

The government asked ISPs in March 2003 to cut off access to all Chechen websites. Most complied in March and early April, especially targeting newspaper sites, such as that of the Caucasus Herald.

Ideological censorship of the Internet?

A senior communications ministry official, Mamedrasul Bilalov, said in early April 2003 that the ministry had the right to ask ISPs to block sites containing material "contrary to the mentality, traditions and customs" of the country. The Azerbaijan Internet Forum criticised this statement on 12 April as opening the way to ideological censorship of the Internet.

The site www.avrasiyaturk.com was blocked for a week in July after it publishing an article about the supposed death of President Heidar Aliev, who in fact died a few months later. The opposition site www.virtualmonitor.org was also blocked in March and April.


* The DAI (Digital Access Index) has been devised by the International Telecommunications Union to measure the access of a country's inhabitants to information and communication technology. It ranges from 0 (none at all) to 1 (complete access).

** Assessment of the situation in each country (good, middling, difficult, serious) is based on murders, imprisonment or harassment of cyber-dissidents or journalists, censorship of news sites, existence of independent news sites, existence of independent ISPs and deliberately high connection charges.


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