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Monday, September 12, 2005


Independent papers vanish in Tajikistan

From Radio Free Europe:

Over the past year, Tajikistan’s independent media have suffered one setback after another. All the major opposition newspapers have been shut down, and recently the editor of one of those newspapers was jailed on what many say are politically motivated charges. In the last week, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has expressed concerns about Tajikistan’s media environment.

There are fewer sources of information in Tajikistan these days. Independent media, especially newspapers, have been hit hard. Two dailies have simply vanished -- a fact that has been noticed by those selling newspapers.

“The popularity of newspapers like 'Ruzi Nau' and 'Nerui Sukhan' was high among our customers, but they have not been putting them out lately. I hope they start again,” one newspaper vendor says.

Readers agree the closings are unhealthy for the country’s political development. One reader in Dusanbe lamented the disappearance of “Ruzi Nau.”

“The newspaper 'Ruzi Nau' is very free and bold and wrote about serious issues and we read the paper with great interest," one newspaper buyer says. "If it were possible, I would ask the Tajik authorities to permit 'Ruzi Nau' to be published, and not only 'Ruzi Nau,' but other newspapers that worked independently and could openly express their opinions about the government. Let them be published! Let the people read! That would represent progress in political life.”

Miklos Haraszti, the representative on media freedom for the OSCE, this week sent a letter to Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov to express his concerns. Harasti’s senior adviser Alex Ivanko explained the case to RFE/RL: “The first time Mr. Haraszti raised this issue [independent media problems] was with the authorities in Tajikistan last year during the annual OSCE-Central Asia Media Conference. And after that on several occasions he has written to the Tajik authorities and now after a year he again wants to raise awareness of the fact that this issue has not been solved.”

Some say it is becoming worse.

In his letter, Haraszti mentioned four opposition newspapers and two printing houses that have been closed. Then, at the end of last month, Mukhtar Bokizoda, the editor of “Nerui Sukhan,” was sentenced to jail.

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