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Russia Urges Tajikistan To Resume Russian TV Broadcasts

DUSHANBE -- Russian authorities are urging Tajikistan to resume rebroadcasting Russia's RTR Planeta television station in Tajikistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik State Television and Radio Committee head Asadullo Rahmonov told RFE/RL that his company stopped airing the state-run RTR Planeta last March due to unpaid fees by the Russian side.

He said top Russian officials recently made a formal request for the rebroadcasting to resume.

But Rahmonov said that according to Russian-Tajik agreements, Tajikistan is obliged to rebroadcast Russian television channels only when such programs are not available via satellite, and RTR Planeta is on satellite.

Rahmonov said there have also been discussions about rebroadcasting Russia's First Public Television Channel (ORT) in Tajikistan. The rebroadcasting of ORT programs ended in 1999 due to ORT's reluctance to pay fees, Tajik officials said.

He added that Russian military bases in Tajikistan are violating the law by illegally rebroadcasting ORT programs on frequencies allocated by the Tajik government for another television channel.

Ethnic Russians once made up nearly 15 percent of the population of the Soviet republic of Tajikistan, but large-scale migration after the fall of the USSR has greatly reduced their numbers. Ethnic Russians currently constitute about 3 percent of Tajikistan's 7.1 million people.