LATEST: Top Economist Laylaz Summoned Over Prison Sentence

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A vivid reminder of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a “lame duck” President this morning….

Ahmadinejad still has five weeks before Hassan Rouhani takes over as head of Government, but — despite warnings that he could cause mischief — he almost completely disappeared from this month’s Presidential election and has scarcely bothered the headlines. While as President, he still updates his official website,, President-elect Rouhani has eclipsed him even in cyberspace, creating his own website.

The pro-Ahmadinejad IRNA tries its best to revive the President with a lead story that he has flown to Zanjan Province to inaugurate several projects, featuring Ahmadinejad smiling and waving as he enters the plane.

No one else follows, however — Fars, linked to the Revolutionary Guards, sees no reason to mention the trip. Nor do Khabar Online, the outlet of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, or Mehr News.

Indeed, Mehr prefers a jab at Ahmadinejad. It features a letter from leading MP Ahmad Tavakoli — a long-time critic of the Government — to Larijani, alleging that the President has manipulated the currency market so billions in Government debt “disappeared”.

UPDATE: Fars News in Persian has just noticed Ahmadinejad’s trip to Zanjan, with a very short article reporting that the outgoing President has opened a sanitary products factory there.

Latest Updates, From Top to Bottom

Top Economist Laylaz Summoned Over Prison Sentence

We are clarifying reports as to whether Saeed Laylaz, one of Iran’s leading economists, was interrogated at Evin Prison on Saturday over his six-year prison sentence, but was soon released, reportedly on bail of 5 billion Rial (about $400,000 at official rate; $150,000 at open-market rate).

Laylaz, an advisor to 2009 Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, was handed a nine-year sentence in December 2009 for “taking part in illegal gatherings” and “holding classified information”. The term was subsequently reduced by an appeals court.

The economist recently called the election of Hasson Rouhani as President “a historical opportunity” and a “trend toward moderation”.

Rouhani Addresses Iranian People: Moderation or Freedom?

President-elect Hassan Rouhani has given his first nationally-televised address to the Iranian people, and Press TV sees the message as “moderation”:

An observer has a different take-away from the speech:

Rouhani Meets Seyed Hassan Khomeini

President-elect Hassan Rouhani, whose public relations campaign including in English has continued after his election victory, announced late Friday via his website and social media tha cleric Seyed Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had visited him. Seyed Hassan congratulated Rouhani, and the two had a discussion, according to Rouhani’s website.