Tajikistan blocks scores of websites as election looms

DUSHANBE Tue Dec 25, 2012 7:07am EST

Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon uses a headphone during a news conference in Kabul October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon uses a headphone during a news conference in Kabul October 25, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood

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DUSHANBE (Reuters) - Tajikistan blocked access to more than 100 websites on Tuesday, in what a government source said was a dress rehearsal for a crackdown on online dissent before next year's election when President Imomali Rakhmon will again run for office.

Rakhmon, a 60-year-old former head of a Soviet cotton farm, has ruled the impoverished Central Asian nation of 7.5 million for 20 years. He has overseen constitutional amendments that allow him to seek a new seven-year term in November 2013.

The Internet remains the main platform where Tajiks can air grievances and criticize government policies at a time when the circulation of local newspapers is tiny and television is tightly controlled by the state.

Tajikistan's state communications service blocked 131 local and foreign Internet sites "for technical and maintenance works".

"Most probably, these works will be over in a week," Tatyana Kholmurodova, deputy head of the service, told Reuters. She declined to give the reason for the work, which cover even some sites with servers located abroad.

The blocked resources included Russia's popular social networking sites www.my.mail.ru and VKontakte (www.vk.com), as well as Tajik news site TJKnews.com and several local blogs.

"The government has ordered the communications service to test their ability to block dozens of sites at once, should such a need arise," a senior government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"It is all about November 2013," he said, in a clear reference to the presidential election.

Other blocked websites included a Ukrainian soccer site, a Tajik rap music site, several local video-sharing sites and a pornography site.


Predominantly Muslim Tajikistan, which lies on a major transit route for Afghan drugs to Europe and Russia, remains volatile after a 1992-97 civil war in which Rakhmon's Moscow-backed secular government clashed with Islamist guerrillas.

Rakhmon justifies his authoritarian methods by saying he wants to oppose radical Islam. But some of his critics argue repression and poverty push many young Tajiks to embrace it.

Tighter Internet controls echo measures taken by other former Soviet republics of Central Asia, where authoritarian rulers are wary of the role social media played in revolutions in the Arab world and mass protests in Russia.

The government this year set up a volunteer-run body to monitor Internet use and reprimand those who openly criticize Rakhmon and other officials.

In November, Tajikistan blocked access to Facebook, saying it was spreading "mud and slander" about its veteran leader.

The authorities unblocked Facebook after concern was expressed by the United States and European Union, the main providers of humanitarian aid for Tajikistan, where almost a half of the population lives in abject poverty.

Asomiddin Asoyev, head of Tajikistan's association of Internet providers, said authorities were trying to create an illusion that there were no problems in Tajik society by silencing online criticism.

"This is self-deception," he told Reuters. "The best way of resolving a problem is its open discussion with civil society."

Moscow-based Central Asia expert Arkady Dubnov told Reuters that Rakhmon's authoritarian measures could lead to a backlash against the president in the election. "Trying to position itself as the main guarantor of stability through repression against Islamist activists, the Dushanbe government is actually achieving the reverse - people's trust in it is falling," he said.

(Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Pravin Char)

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Comments (1)
DeanMJackson wrote:
The caption reads, “Tajikistan blocks scores of websites as election looms”

Of course Tajikistan blocks websites as “election” looms, because of the following free “election” literature “voters” in Tajikistan would receive from Dean Michael Jackson (via Reuters):

The president of Tajikistan since the “collapse” of the USSR and political affiliation before the “collapse”:

Emomalii Rahmon – November 20, 1992 – Present, Communist.

Oh, wait voters! Take a look at this. A sampling of post-USSR Presidents since the “collapse” of the USSR and their political affiliations before the “collapse”:


Levon Ter-Petrossian – October 16, 1991 – February 3, 1998, Communist.

Robert Kocharyan – February 4, 1998 – April 9, 2008, Communist.

Serzh Azati Sargsyan – April 9, 2008 – Present, Communist.


Ayaz Niyazi oğlu Mütallibov – October 30, 1991 – March 6, 1992, Communist.

Abulfez Elchibey – June 16, 1992 – September 1, 1993, not Communist.

Heydar Alirza oglu Aliyev – June 24, 1993 – October 31, 2003, Communist.

Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev (Son of third President) – October 31, 2003 – Present, Communist.


Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko – July 20, 1994 – Present, Communist.


Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev – April 24, 1990 – Present, Communist.


Askar Akayevich Akayev – October 27, 1990 – March 24, 2005, Communist.

Ishenbai Duyshonbiyevich Kadyrbekov – March 24, 2005 – March 25, 2005 (Interim), Communist.

Kurmanbek Saliyevich Bakiyev – March 25, 2005 – April 15, 2010, Communist.

Roza Isakovna Otunbayeva – April 7, 2010 – December 1, 2011 Communist.

Almazbek Sharshenovich Atambayev – December 1, 2011 – Present, Communist.


Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin – July 10, 1991 – December 31, 1999 – Communist.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – 31 December 1999 – 7 May 2000 (Acting) and May 7, 2000 – May 7, 2008 – Communist.

Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev – May 7, 2008 – May 7, 2012, during his studies at the University he joined the Communist Party.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – May 7, 2012 – Present, Communist.


Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk, December 5, 1991 – July 19, 1994, joined Ukraine Communist Party in 1958.

Leonid Danylovych Kuchma, July 19, 1994 – January 23, 2005, Communist, 1960.

Viktor Andriyovych Yushchenko, January 23, 2005 – February 25, 2010, Communist, 1980.

Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych, February 25, 2010 – Present, Communist, 1980.


Islam Abdug‘aniyevich Karimov – March 24, 1990 – Present, Communist.

Imagine it’s 1784 America. The Treaty of Paris (1783) was signed the previous year ending the revolutionary war with Britain. So who do the electorates of the newly independent 13 colonies elect for their respective governors? They elect persons who were Loyalists (American supporters of Great Britain) during the war for independence! Of course, in reality the persecution was so bad for Loyalists in post independence America that they had to flee the country en masse for Canada.

Or try this one out: After the collapse of the South African Apartheid Regime in 1994, the majority block population reelect for their Presidents only persons who were National Party members before the 1994 elections!

Well, ladies and gentlemen, now you know that the “collapse” of the USSR in 1991 was a strategic ruse (under the “Long-Range Policy”, the “new” strategy all Communist nations adopted in 1960 to defeat the West with), as will be the upcoming “collapse” of the Chinese Communist government.

Dec 25, 2012 5:57am EST  --  Report as abuse
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