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RFE/RL Decries Web Interference in Tajikistan; U.S. Expresses ‘Concern’

Access inside Tajikistan to the website of RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, has been blocked since February 22.

The blockage, which has stopped traffic to the website from four of the country’s six main Internet service providers, coincides with Radio Ozodi’s coverage of events in Ukraine, which includes live streaming that is unavailable to local audiences on state-run Tajik and Russian-language media.

RFE/RL President and CEO Kevin Klose called on Tajik authorities, and the Communications Ministry specifically, to take all necessary measures to remove obstacles to RFE/RL’s programming and restore Tajik citizens’ unhindered access to independent information.

Klose was joined in his concern about the blockage by the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, which issued a statement noting that “when ideas are blocked, information deleted, and conversations stifled, all of us are robbed of the opportunity to hear and exchange views.”

Access to the Tajik Service’s website was blocked previously in late 2012, following temporary blockages earlier in 2012 of numerous websites, including YouTube, the BBC, Asia Plus, and Russian media in connection with unrest in Gorno-Badakhshan. More recently, access to YouTube and the local news portal Ozodagon was blocked on the eve of Tajikistan’s November 2013 presidential election.