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Tajikistan12 October 2006

Information websites unblocked

Radio Free Europe reports that the Tajik communications ministry has restored access to five news websites - centrasia.ru, ferghana.ru, tajikistantimes.ru, charogiruz.ru and arianastorm.com. Reporters Without Borders had condemned the blocking of access to these sites.


12.10.06 Access to four news websites blocked in run-up to presidential election

Reporters Without Borders today criticised as a “disturbing setback to freedom of expression” the government’s blocking of access to four independent online news websites yesterday for allegedly “undermining government policy” less than a month before presidential elections.

The worldwide press freedom organisation said the sites - charogiruz.ru, tajikistantimes.ru, ferghana.ru and centrasia.org - were “especially important for news diversity” because the independent local press was still very weak. “Blocking online media must only be decided by a judge and not, as in this case, by politicians,” it said.

The communications ministry wrote to 12 Internet service providers (ISPs) on 5 October asking them to block access within 10 days to “certain websites whose content undermines government information policy.”

The tajikistantimes.ru site, which is run from abroad, was temporarily blocked in May 2003, two months after it was launched by opposition journalist Dododjon Atovulloev, and features harsh criticism of the authorities. Atovulloev says the site is the only one that dares criticise the president, the government and parliament and say what the local press does not.

The presidential election will be on 6 November and President Emomali Rakhmonov, in power since 1992, is running again. Tajikistan is in 113th place among 167 countries in the Reporters Without Borders worldwide press freedom index.


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