A court in Tajikistan has ordered new linguistic forensics into a video statement by a noted mixed-martial-arts (MMA) fighter from the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO), Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service reported on March 30. 

The court's decision was reportedly announced as the trial of Chorshanbe Chorshanbiyev, who is charged with making online calls for forced change of the Central Asian country's constitutional order, resumed inside a detention center in Dushanbe on March 29.

The charge against the athlete and blogger stems from a video statement he made in the wake of violent protests in GBAO’s capital, Khorog, which broke out in November 2021 after security forces fatally wounded a local man wanted on charges of kidnapping.

In his video statement, Chorshanbiyev condemned the actions of security forces that led to the death of the man and called on Tajiks "and all the peoples of the country to rise against injustice, unjust deaths of innocent people."

The court decided to send Chorshanbiyev's video statement for additional linguistic studies after expert Yelizaveta Koltunova of the Institute of Linguistics and Journalism in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod testified that Chorshanbiyev's statement did not contain any “psychosocial or linguistic elements of calls for violence, including disruption of the foundations of the society and state.”

Chorshanbiyev, 26, a Tajik national, was deported late last year from Russia where he had lived for many years, after he was caught speeding by Moscow police.  Upon arrival in Tajikistan on December 30, however, he was taken into custody.  This sequence of events has sparked suspicions that the deportation was effected at the request of the Tajik authorities.

If convicted, Chorshanbiyev could face up to 15 years in prison.