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Tajikistan Strips Second RFE/RL Journalist of Credentials

Banner, Radio Ozodi program, 'Tajik Guest.'
Banner, Radio Ozodi program, 'Tajik Guest.'
A veteran journalist with RFE/RL's Tajik service has been denied accreditation in the second such case in as many months.

On June 1, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected Abduqayum Qayumov's application for a routine renewal of his journalistic credentials. In a conversation with RFE/RL's Dushanbe bureau chief to explain the decision, a ministry official accused Qayumov of conducting activities on behalf of an opposition group. He said the decision was not related to his work for RFE/RL.

Qayumov, an ethnic Tajik, has worked in RFE/RL's Dushanbe bureau since 2001, reporting on political subjects and activities of Tajikistan's parliament, in particular. On World Press Freedom Day 2010, he was recognized by Media-Alliance, Tajikistan's largest journalist union, for his "courageous and outstanding" reporting on corruption and other controversial issues at an event sponsored by the US Embassy in Dushanbe.

He is a close relative of an opposition figure in Tajikistan whose arrest authorities have sought for several years.

According to international standards as interpreted by the OSCE, accreditation for journalists is intended as an administrative matter. The OSCE has censured governments in Belarus and elsewhere for politicizing accreditation by using it as a "work permit" to selectively monitor and control journalists. Without accreditation, Qayumov is barred from practicing the profession.

In April the Foreign Ministry denied accreditation to Gulnora Rovshan, an Uzbek journalist who worked for RFE/RL in Dushanbe since 2006. Ms. Rovshan was refused without explanation. RFE/RL protested Ms. Rovshan's case to the Tajik Foreign Ministry last month, but to date has received no response.

Although Tajikistan has tolerated a greater degree of media pluralism than its neighbors elsewhere in Central Asia, RFE/RL officials are concerned that these cases effectively muzzling two long-serving RFE/RL journalists signal a more restrictive trend.

RFE/RL's Tajik language service, Radio Ozodi, is a registered media company in Tajikistan.