Following weeks of protests, authorities in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, or GBAO, agreed last week to give up on their attempt to jail two young men from BGAO’s Rushan district on suspicion of association with an accused drug smuggler and have, instead, decided to fine them less than US$20 apiece, Eurasianet said on June 20.

The story reportedly began on May 22, when officers with the State Committee for National Security (SCNS) carried out an operation to detain a resident of GBAO’s Rushan district, Sharof Qobilov, who is suspected by law enforcement bodies of drug-smuggling and leading an organized criminal group.  Officials accuse Qobilov of trafficking narcotics from across the border in Afghanistan.

When the security officers sought to detain Qobilov, two young men who were with him at the time reportedly intervened to thwart the arrest.  But they too ended up being detained.

This sparked a rolling series of rallies to demand their release outside SCNS’s office in Rushan that began from May 25.  Within a few days, protestors actually managed to break the men free, but continued to gather to ensure that charges against them were dropped, according to Eurasianet

The GBAO governor Yodgor Faizov reportedly managed to persuade demonstrators to disperse peacefully.

According to Eurasianet, the SCNS agreed to back down from its threat to jail the men and agreed instead to fine them 190 somoni, which is equivalent to around US$18.

The SCNS reportedly also announced that it was seeking the arrest of an individual called Yodgor Ghulomamadov, who fought on the opposition side in the civil war of the 1990s.

And so, rallies resumed once more, on June 15 outside local government offices in Rushan, Eurasianet said, noting that another meeting also took place in front of GBAO government headquarters in the regional capital, Khorog.

Finally, on June 17, the SCNS reportedly dropped their efforts to arrest Ghulomamadov.