DUSHANBE, October 9, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Media representatives in Tajikistan say authorities have reportedly blocked access to five Russian-language information websites, saying they are harmful to state security.
The five online publications reportedly include arianastorm.com, centrasia.org, charogiruz.ru, ferghana.ru, and tajikistantimes.ru. Three of them have their offices in Moscow.
Nuriddin Qarshiboev, the president of Tajikistan's National Association of Independent Media, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service he believes the government's decision is political.
"I believe this is linked to the ongoing campaign for the presidential election," he said. "By doing this the government is trying to limit access to alternatives sources of information for Internet users. The fact is that these five websites...have not only been giving official viewpoints, but also offering alternative sources of information."
In a letter sent to Tajikistan's 12 Internet providers on October 7, the state information-regulation agency asks them to search through and close websites that "aim to undermine the government's policies in the sphere of information."
Rights groups have accused incumbent President Imomali Rakhmonov of restricting media freedom ahead of the November 6 election.
The opposition Democratic Party on October 5 accused the authorities of trying to prevent the publication of its "Adolat" newspaper. The government has denied any wrongdoing.
(with ferghana.ru and Avesta)