United States Agency for International Development (USAID) new report on the sustainable development of civil society organizations in Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia sasys Azerbaijan showed significant deterioration in the sustainability of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in 2014. "Throughout the year, the state suppressed alternative opinions through persistent strategic and systematic measures which continued even after assuming the six-month rotating chairmanship of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers in May 2014".
The report, "Index of Sustainable Development of Civil Society Organizations in 2014" further concludes that a number of legislative amendments impeded activities of independent organizations in the country. "Since the end of 2013, several restrictive amendments were made to the laws governing civil society -including the Law on Grants, Law on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Law on Registration of Legal Entities and State Registry, and Code on Administrative Offenses-that significantly limit the space for CSOs. Moreover, the government launched an unprecedented wave of arrests, travel bans, investigations, and interference in activities of domestic and foreign CSOs during 2014".
The report describes in detail many of the limitations including "an unwritten ban on implementing public events in conference spaces, enforcement of which intensified in 2014".
In addition to government imposed limits, there is an issue of overall perception of CSOs thanks to government controlled media. This too worsened in 2014 with CSOs often described as part of an Armenian lobby.
The full report is available here.