On the outskirts of the city of Kulob towards Shamsiddin-Shohin district, a group of young men have stopped vehicles with GBAO registration plates (04) and threatened them, one of passengers told Asia-Plus by phone Saturday (December 11) afternoon.

According to him, the incident took place Saturday morning.

“More than 20 young men blocked the way for cars.  They explained their actions to the passengers by saying that residents of Rushan district recently stopped a truck driven by a resident of Kulob area and allegedly took 1,700 somonis from him.  According to them, they knew about that from a documentary about the Khorog protest rally that was shown on Tajik national TV channel,” said the witness.  “They threatened passers-by and demanded that residents of Rushan ask for forgiveness for their actions against the truck driver.” 

He has added there were no persons in police uniform among those who blocked the road. 

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry claims that there was no such an incident.  Nusratullo Mahmadzoda, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told this to Asia-Plus.  According to Mahmadzoda, he called the Kulob police department and they said that there was no such an incident. 

Recall, a report aired on state television on December 9 depicted Gulbiddin Ziyobekov, who was killed by law enforcement officers on November 25, as a hotheaded vigilante acting on behalf of a fraudster.

This story has its roots in an incident that took place in February 2020, when a group of people from GBAO’s Roshtqala district, which included Ziyobekov, confronted and allegedly assaulted an assistant prosecutor they said had harassed a young woman, forcing him to issue an apology to camera. Ziyobekov was subsequently named as the object of a criminal investigation.  His arrest was avoided following negotiations mediated by the then-governor of the GBAO, Yodgor Fayzov, who was removed from his post last month.

Meanwhile, Fayzov reportedly said in his interview that the girl who first had made the harassment claims had been attempting to bribe a police officer into helping her secure a new passport under an assumed name.  Her motivation was said to be that she was deported from Russia and was consequently unable to re-enter that country under her real name.  She was offering 300 somonis and a goat in payment for the favor, Fayzov stated, according to Eurasianet