Some 100 days have passed since Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli were arrested by police in an apparent case of regime provocation. Their true crime was exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression and conscience, with social media and the web as their venue. Freedom for freedom - its exercise in exchange for its loss - was the price the two young bloggers and student activists had to pay for something taken for granted as norms of civilized society. Despite fraudulent and fabricated criminal allegations, their true "crime" was making fun of realities known to all but raised by few. Did they speak the unspeakable, call for chaos and upheaval? No, Hajizade and Milli simply posted a parody of politics on the web, coming too close to realities of government in current Azerbaijan: A video of a mock press conference with a donkey commenting on the country's repressive NGO-legislation.
However, comedy turned tragedy, as government decided to set an example to deter others from even the most harmless forms of regime critique. With a unique display of foolhardedness, the Azeri police and legislature staged a travesty of justice, by prosecuting Hajizade and Milli for a crime they had been victims of, adding allegation to allegation, charge to charge. In the dark gulfs of government conscience, fears inspired by the role of social media during the green revolution in nearby Iran, may have been one reason why Azeri officials all of a sudden reacted so sternly against the bloggers. Any more concrete reasons are obscure, but for the normal workings of an authoritarian system.
In its 2009 "Freedom in the World" report, Freedom House ranks Azerbaijan as "not free" and provides the following analysis on the development up till 2008: