Tajikistan: man jailed for 5 years for ‘insulting’ President on social media

DUSHANBE (TCA) — A 30-year-old Tajik man has been sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of insulting the country’s president and calling for the overthrow of the government on social media posts, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reports.

Umar Murodov shared the posts on Russian social network Odnoklassniki over the past two years while working as a migrant laborer in Russia, said a court official in Tajikistan’s southern Khatlon Province, where Murodov was sentenced.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

Murodov was arrested on June 12 upon his return to his native town of Kulob.

Murodov’s father, Davlat Murodov, told RFE/RL on August 16 that his son was wanted by Tajik authorities over the allegations.

“Authorities had promised us that if he returned voluntarily, he will be pardoned. I sold our cow and bought him tickets. My son came, but they arrested him,” the father said.

The family say they don’t agree with the court ruling but will not appeal it, and instead will write a letter to President Emomali Rahmon asking for a pardon.

Court documents obtained by RFE/RL’s Tajik Service show that Murodov admitted to reposting and liking several videos.

However, Murodov insisted he “didn’t have an intention of overthrowing the government and insulting or slandering the president.”

In April, another migrant worker from Khatlon, Alijon Sharipov, was sentenced to nine and a half years for watching, liking, and sharing videos of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party’s gatherings abroad.

Sharipov was found guilty of “calling for extremism, calling for the overthrow of the government, and working for banned political parties.”

Sharipov admitted sharing the videos, but said he didn’t know it was against the law.

In recent years, Tajikistan has seen the growing cult of personality of President Rahmon, who is increasingly strengthening his grip on power in the Central Asian country.

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Times of Central Asia