DUSHANBE, October 9, Asia-Plus -- Linguistic examination of an article critical of a Tajik singer Raihona Rahimova made by the Institute of [Tajik] Language and Literature of the Academy of Sciences says that the article has elements of insult, Bahodour Ismatzoda, the lawyer of Raihona Rahimova, told journalists on October 9.   

The trial of three female reporters for the Dushanbe tabloid newspaper Ovoza (Rumors) was expected to begin in a court of Dushanbe’s Firdavsi district today morning, but it was adjourned until October 10 as the complainant did not come

Bahodour Ismatzoda said that Raihona had not been able to come “because of mass of urgent matters.”  

In the meantime, Muhayo Nozimova, one of defendants on this case, told Asia-Plus that they had not been informed of the linguistic examination.  “We knew about the linguistic examination only on September 5, charges were formally brought against us, while it was made on August 8 already, and its results became known on August 13,” she said.   

According to Nozimova, the linguistic examination of the article was made by S. Nazarzoda, the director of the Institute of Language and Literature.  “According to the examination results, elements of insult were revealed in quotations, which we used from chat-forum on www.mynet.tj but not in our authoring text,” the journalist said.   

For his part, journalists’ defense lawyer Inoyat Inoyatov said in an interview with Asia-Plus that journalists should not be made answerable for informational-critical materials.  “Besides, in their article, my clients used utterances of Internet users and they cannot bear responsibility for them,” the lawyer said.   

We will recall that three female reporters for the tabloid newspaper Ovoza , Farangis Nabiyeva, Muhayo Nozimova, and Said Qurbonova (editor of Ovoza ), face charges of insult, libel and illegal collection and spread of information about private life.    

Farangis Nabiyeva and Muhayo Nozimova coauthored the article critical of singer Raihona Rahimova titled “Raihona pi-pi-pi Afghoniston” (Ovoza, # 25, June 21, 2007).  

Raihona lodged an application to the Dushanbe city prosecutor’s office o July 11, claiming the article by Muhayo Nozimova and Farangis Nabiyeva had allegedly defamed her.  Following the application, the Dushanbe prosecutor’s office instituted criminal proceedings against them and the Ovoza editor Saida Qurbonova.        

The journalists released an open letter to President Emomali Rahmon on August 20, asking to intercede on their behalf after the Dushanbe prosecutor’s office formally initiated criminal libel case against them for “insulting” a singer.  They argued that their joint article critical of Raihona Rahimova published in Ovoza did not constitute grounds for instituting criminal proceedings.  They defended the singer’s right to defend her honor, dignity, and business reputation, but said that the issue would be better settled by a civil court. 

Media rights groups have also criticized Tajik prosecutors for opening criminal cases against the reporters.  Media advocacy groups in Tajikistan and Russia called on Dushanbe to stop prosecuting journalists for their professional activity.