The family of Amriddin Alovatshoyev, who is considered leader of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) youth in Russia, is demanding a retrial after he was sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges of hostage taking, depriving others of their freedom, and other crimes that his relatives call trumped-up.

Amriddin’s brother, Bakhtiyor Alovatshoyev, told Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, on May 5 that the family had filed a legal complaint at the Gorno-Badakhshan provincial court and asked for a retrial. 

Amriddin Alovatshoyev, 44, was sentenced in a trial behind closed doors that lasted about five hours on April 29 in Dushanbe, according to court sources and family members.

Recall, the trial of Amriddin Alovatshoyev began at the Dushanbe-based pretrial detention facility No 1 on April 29 at 2:00 and ended the same day evening.

Alovatshoyev was sentenced to 18 years in prison and he will serve his term in a high-security penal colony.

According to Radio Ozodi, defense lawyers were informed too late about the beginning of the trial.

Tajik officials provided no information about Alovatshoyev's trial and the charges he faced.

But sources told RFE/RL that he was convicted of five charges, including inciting religious, ethnic, or racial hatred, setting up an extremist organization, and hostage taking.

Alovatshoyev's relatives said he denied all charges and that he "was shocked" by the gravity and the length of the sentence.

Amriddin Alovatshoyev, who had been based in Russia since 2019, was extradited to Tajikistan earlier this year.  He was charged with hostage taking, illegal depriving others of their freedom, and other crimes that his relatives call trumped-up.

Alovatshoyev went incommunicado on January 11 and media reports said that he was detained in the Russian city of Belgorod at the Tajik authorities’ request.

In early February, Tajik authorities said Alovatshoyev was extradited to Dushanbe.  The developments around him coincided with Tajik prosecutors' decision to launch a new probe into four days of demonstrations in Khorog, the GBAO’s capital, that left two people killed and at least 17 others injured in November 2021.

The protests in the region broke out on November 25 after security forces killed a local man wanted on charges of kidnapping.

On February 12, Tajik national television broadcast a video of Alovatshoyev "confessing" to unspecified crimes.  His supporters have insisted that he was under duress when the video was recorded.

Alovatshoyev’s supporters say that in Russia he was known as a leader of those from GBAO who are working and studying there. He set up a group that promoted healthy living as well as maintaining close ties among the community members.

There has been no indication that Alovatshoyev's group has been involved in politics or anti-government activities, according to Radio Ozodi.