Tajikistan: Opposition Figure Given 17 Years

A Dushanbe court sentenced leading civil activist Umedjon Solehov to a prison term of 17 years in absentia for “insulting the president,” among other charges. The Ismoili Somoni court handed down the sentenced after Solehov purportedly appeared in a video during a Moscow rally in which he criticized Tajik president Emomali Rahmon and called for his resignation. The judgment also included a stipulation that prohibits Solehov from transacting business for five years after completing the sentence, should he return to Tajikistan.

The Tajik government has long sought the detention of Solehov due to his status as an outspoken opponent of the Tajik government. Solehov is a member of Group 24, an “illegal” political party whose leader, Umarali Quvatov, left Tajikistan in 2012. Dushanbe has made an inveterate attempt to discredit Group 24, blaming it for online calls for activism in October of 2014 as well as “various other crimes” not specified by the government.

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News Briefs:

  • The Tajik ambassador to Pakistan recently made known that a supply of 1,000 megawatts of electricity will soon be transported to Pakistan via the long-discussed CASA-1000 project. Once the new project becomes operational Tajikistan will have the ability to export large surpluses of energy to neighboring countries such as Pakistan, which has long suffered from energy shortages.
  • The Azeri capital of Baku will play host to meetings of the Ad Hoc Working Group, an assembly comprised of representatives from Iran, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The meeting will look into the feasibility of the Trans-Caspian pipeline, a proposed diversification plan proposed initially by the European Union. Turkmenistan has voiced support for the plan, which coincides with the publication of the EU’s Energy Program, which details Brussels’s desire to diversify its energy imports.
  • At least thirty-three miners were killed in an explosion emanating from a mine in eastern Ukraine. The explosion, likely occasioned by rebel contact with gas lines, was quickly politicized by Ukrainian officials in Kiev, who lamented the inability to facilitate rescue efforts due to the ongoing conflict. The mine in which the explosion took place is privately owned and the source of more than 100 deaths since 2007.
  • Russian and Ukrainian negotiators came to terms on a deal that will extend natural gas supplies to Ukraine through March. The conflict in eastern Ukraine appears to have calmed at least in the short term, and it appears that Ukraine will have natural gas through the remainder of the winter. The European Union reacted positively to the news, as supplies to the EU will remain uninterrupted.
  • More than 450 people have been killed in China’s turbulent province of Xinjiang during the last year, with some alleging that the number has risen as high as 700. The majority of those killed were ethnic Uighurs, the Turkic minority whose resistance to Chinese relocation policies led the group to be designated as a terrorist group by the Chinese government. The report detailing the extent of the violence is critical of Chinese “excessive force” and an alleged lack of transparency into the extent of Chinese policing of the province.
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