Arifa Kazimova, Baku bureau news editor for RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service, has won the country’s top journalism prize.
The Zardabi Award, which is presented by the independent Azerbaijani Union of Journalists, recognizes outstanding journalistic work from independent media outlets, as well as pro-government and opposition media.
This year, Kazimova was recognized with 7 other journalists. She was commended for her excellent coverage of international affairs and foreign policy related topics.
"I hope that a day will come when all Azerbaijani journalists will be working without fear of being persecuted and free of self-censorship. I believe we will get there one day,” Kazimova said after accepting the award.
As part of her coverage of international affairs, Kazimova regularly interviews high-profile international policy makers. She recently interviewed U.S. Senator Roger Wicker about Russia’s interventions in Ukraine, Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (PACE) member from Ireland Michael McNamara on political prisoners in Azerbaijan, and Paul Goble, former advisor to U.S Secretary of State James Baker, about the protracted, tenuous ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Zardabi Award is named after Hasan bey Zardabi, journalist and publisher of the first Azeri-language newspaper “The Ploughman,” which he founded in 1875. The Azerbaijani Union of Journalists presents the eponymous award annually on the anniversary of the paper’s founding.
“Azerbaijan’s press celebrates its anniversary with both achievements and problems,” said union head Elchin Shikhli. “Some of the problems pertain to freedom of the press and some to professionalism. With the entrance of more young people into the journalism profession, these issues will be solved.”
Kazimova joined RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service, Radio Azadliq, in 2001 and has worked as a reporter, broadcaster, and news moderator in both Baku and RFE/RL’s Prague headquarters.
WATCH: Kazimova interviews U.S. Senator Roger Wicker on Russia's actions in Ukraine