Radio Azadliq correspondent Saadat Akifqizi, based in RFE/RL’s Baku bureau, won the main prize in a journalism competition sponsored by the Open Society Institute
and the Center for Support to Economic Initiatives. The prize, awarded for the first time, was announced today in Baku.
This was an investigation. You can see hard work and answered questions in this report," saier Mehdiyev, the head of the Center for Support to Economic Initiatives.
Saadat's story "They Have a Car"
was judged the best among several investigative reports submitted to the competition in the category "Transparency of State Procurements in Azerbaijan". The story highlights corruption in state procurement of service cars and first appeared on Radio Azadliq
on December 21. The investigative report revealed that cars for ministers are bought without a bidding process and negotiations are conducted secretly.
Over the last six years, the Azerbaijani government spent $500 million (US) to buy cars and renew transportation registrations. Ministers bought very expensive cars often costing more than $100,000 each. In 2007, the government spent over $69 million to buy service cars -- more than double the annual budget for medical supplies, scientific research and educational stipends combined. The average monthly salary of a worker in Azerbaijan is just over $300 per month.
"This was an investigation. You can see hard work and answered questions in this report," said Azer Mehdiyev, the head of the Center for Support to Economic Initiatives.