Criminal proceedings have been instituted over attack on Radio Ozodi and Current Time (the Russian-language channel run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA) journalists in Dushanbe and the journalists have been recognized as victims.

The Dushanbe-based Independent Center for Human Rights Protection (Center) says they received a written application from Radio Ozodi and Current Time on May 18 asking for legal assistance in connection with attack on their journalists in Dushanbe. The Center has reportedly provided them with defense lawyers Abdurahmon Sharipov and Nargis Hodiyeva.

“An investigator with police station No 2 in Dushanbe’s Sino district told us on May 31 that criminal proceedings have been instituted under the provisions of Article 248 (2) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code – robbery,” Mr. Abdurahmon Sharipov told Asia-Plus in an interview.       

According to him, Radio Ozodi journalist Mullorajab Yusufzoda told him that in the evening of May 28 when he walking with his family unknown man approached him and said that the equipment confiscated and their personal phones are with him and from them and they will get them back if they withdraw their application from the police.  

“The man also threatened that if they do not withdraw their application should, Mullorajab should think about the health of his family members.  The acting head of Radio Ozodi Bureau in Tajikistan was also notified about this case,” Sharipov said.  

He also noted that Ms. Nargis Hodiyeva together with the leadership of Radio Ozodi in Tajikistan on June 2 wrote an application on measures to ensure the safety of journalists as participants in criminal proceedings.  The application was submitted to the Interior Ministry the same day.

“Investigative actions began on June 7 and journalists and representatives of Radio Ozodi were questioned as victims,” Ms. Hodiyeva noted.  

According to her, the head of the Radio Ozodi Bureau in Tajikistan yesterday received a notification that the application on measures to ensure the safety of journalists has been submitted for execution to the Dushanbe Police Directorate.  

Recall, unknown assailants attacked journalists from Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, locally known as Radio Ozodi, and Current Time in Dushanbe on May 17 and confiscated the journalists' equipment and personal phones.

Radio Ozodi says a vehicle of journalists from Radio Ozodi was blocked by another car and several men in civilian clothes came out of the car, forced journalists Mullorajab Yusufi and Barot Yusufi out of their vehicle, and attacked them.

The men punched Mullorajab Yusufzoda several times in the body and head and confiscated the journalists' equipment and personal phones.  The attackers refused to identify themselves or explain their behavior.  Before leaving the scene, they told the journalists their equipment would be returned.

About 30 minutes later, two journalists from Current Time, Anoushervon Orifov and Nasim Isamov, were reportedly attacked apparently by the same assailants.

The attacks took place after the journalists conducted separate interviews with well-known civil rights activist Ulfatkhonum Mamadshoyeva.  

Radio Liberty President and CEO Jamie Fly released a statement the same day strongly condemning the two separate attacks on Radio Ozodi and Current Time journalists in Dushanbe.

“We have called on the Tajik authorities repeatedly to stop the government’s pressure campaign against free media," the statement says.   

According to RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, Fly said he wrote to Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin one again in February to complain about accreditations that have been withheld and threats against RFE/RL journalists.

"It is time for the Tajik government to stop trying to undermine independent reporting that benefits the Tajik people," Fly said.