In a country with no daily newspapers and soft-hitting state media outlets, the Internet is where an increasing number of curious Tajikistanis go for news and information. That’s apparently got officials worried.
In recent months, some 50 websites, including independent news portals and the video-sharing platform YouTube, have been blocked in Tajikistan. Though most of the sites were reopened on October 10, the government’s communications service won’t say what’s going on.
The mass blockade started during a violent confrontation this summer between government troops and forces loyal to local warlords in the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan region. Authorities in Dushanbe said little about the operation – which is thought to have left about 70 people dead – but they immediately severed telephone and Internet connections with the region and started blocking websites reporting on the conflict. At the same time, state media outlets all but ignored the developments in Gorno-Badakhshan, instead running programs featuring traditional songs and dance.
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Konstantin Parshin is a freelance writer based in Tajikistan.