Tajikistan still does not have a daily press. The economy is in ruins, and the poverty of the population makes publishing difficult and production costs exhorbitant. The authorities control the presses and publishing, and obtaining a licence can take several years. The violation of press laws are seen as penal infractions, and libel is punishable to two years in prison or five when it involves the head of state. With numerous regions outside the authorities’ control, certain journalists enjoy a certain amount of freedom, as they are outside the capital. In other, more frequent, cases journalists are under the thumb of local authorities who act in total impunity.
Pressure and obstruction
In February 2001 the newspaper, Vetcherny Dushanbe was subject to pressure after publishing an article that criticised the government of Turkmenistan, arousing the anger of the Tajik Minister of Foreign Affairs. The newspaper was accused of wanting to hinder Tajikistan’s diplomatic relations with Turkmenistan.
In February Faiz Mirasanov, journalist of the local television station in Gorno-Badakhshon, was dismissed after doing an interview with General Rustamov, a local official in the Interior Department. Faiz Mirasanov was accused of being the source of "discontent" in the region.
In February Nurali Davlatov, journalist of a young person’s publication, Dzhavoni Tajikistan, was summoned by the police and extensively questioned. In an interview by radio station, Sadoi Khuroson, he had expressed an opinion about the activities of several Tajikistani political parties. He managed to convince the authorities that he had done nothing against the law.
On 5 July, Dodojon Atovulloyev, editor-in-chief of the newspaper, Charogy Ruz, published in Moscow, was arrested at Sheremetiyevo 2 airport near Moscow. This opposition Tajik journalist, having spent several months in Europe, left Hamburg, Germany, in the middle of the day and was transiting via Moscow on his way to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where he was to attend a meeting. A request for extradition had been made in April to the Russian government by the Tajik authorities accusing the journalist of "libel against the President of the Republic" and "incitement to national, racial and religious hatred". The journalist above all else drew the lasting ire of several Tajik leaders, including the mayor of Dushanbe. The journalist had received death threats prior to his arrival in Russia, and several members of his family remaining behind in Tajikistan were arrested and only released after being held for two weeks.
Thanks to the intervention on his behalf by several governments and human rights organisations to the Russian authorities, the journalist was not extradited and was freed a few days later.
In July the authorisation to publish the monthly, Najot, close to the Islamic Renaissance Party (belonging to the government coalition) was withdrawn. The newspaper had just published an article criticising the government about insufficient public services.
At the end of the year journalist Shamsiddin Orumbekov, manager of the local television station, Gbar TV, in the eastern region of Gorno-Badakhshon, was removed from his job. The authorities had pressured him on several occasions but to no effect. So they decided to "promote" him to an important job in the province, thus hoping to put an end to his "capacity to harm". Shamsiddin Orumbekov belongs to the Pamiris ethnic group, the members of which are often suspected of Islamism and have a very hard time finding stable work.