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Protesters took to the streets of Gorno-Badakhshan's regional capital, Khorugh, for the fourth successive day.

Protests have ended in Tajikistan’s volatile Gorno-Badakhshan region after several hours of negotiations between government officials and representatives of the demonstrators on November 28, local residents told RFE/RL.

During the talks, the authorities pledged not to launch criminal probes against the protesters who had been staging demonstrations in front of the government building in the provincial capital, Khorugh, since November 25, said a local activist who attended the negotiations.

The activist spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak to media.

According to the source, the officials also promised to open an investigation into the death of a local man who was shot dead by police in an incident that sparked the four-day protests.

The protesters dispersed in the afternoon and the situation in the city have returned to normal, several Khorugh residents said. There was no immediate comment from government officials.

Earlier, police sources said that Gorno-Badakhshan's acting governor, Alisher Mirzonabot, and several other officials and lawmakers were negotiating with some 40 representatives of protesters in the governor’s office to end the tensions.

The city of Khorugh, which is the capital of Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhsan region.
The city of Khorugh, which is the capital of Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhsan region.

Protests in Khorugh broke out after security forces fatally wounded a local man wanted on charges of kidnapping. On November 25, protesters brought the dead body of the man, Gulbidin Ziyobekov, to the town’s main square, demanding an investigation into the incident.

Some in the crowd then attempted to seize the building of the regional administration using "firearms, stones, and sharp objects," wounding four members of the security forces and a staff member of the prosecutor's office, the state security service said in a statement.

In response, security forces fired on protesters, killing at least one person and wounding several others, sources told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service.

Violence continued in the following days. According to provincial prosecutors, protesters threw stones and wounded Aziz Ghiyoszoda, a member of parliament. That incident happened on November 27 when Ghiyoszoda along with the acting governor, Mirzonabot, came to the central square, unsuccessfully attempting to hold talks with the protesters.

Local residents say that up to 5,000 people were taking part in the rallies every day. However, the size of the demonstration on November 28 was considerably smaller with several dozen protesters gathered in front of the government headquarters.

Police also removed several checkpoints they had set up in the city after the tensions began.

Dismantling the checkpoints was among the protesters’ requests.

Protests are rare in the tightly-controlled nation of 9.5 million where President Emomali Rahmon has ruled for nearly three decades.

Tensions between the government and residents of the nominally autonomous Gorno-Badakhshan region have simmered ever since a five-year civil war broke out shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

A linguistically and ethnically distinct region, Gorno-Badakhshan has been home to rebels who opposed government forces during the conflict.

Roads Blocked In Protest Against New Serbian Laws Decried By Environmentalists
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Demonstrators blocked roads and bridges across Serbia on November 27 to protest against new laws they contend favor business.

Police were out in force, especially in the capital Belgrade, where protesters, blowing whistles and chanting “We won’t give up Serbia,” managed to block traffic at several locations.

Huge columns of cars and other vehicles formed at several locations as the demonstrators allowed only emergency services to pass.

Similar actions were organized in several other cities across Serbia, including Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Sabac, and Kragujevac.

Several demonstrators were arrested during the protests in Novi Sad and Zrenjanin in northern Serbia.

Environmental groups and civil society organizations object to the authorities' recent moves to lower the referendum threshold and allow for the swift expropriation of private property if it's deemed to be in the public interest.

Activists argue this will pave the way for foreign companies to circumvent popular discontent over projects such as the bid by the Rio Tinto company to launch a lithium mine in western Serbia.

Serbia’s authorities have rejected the accusations, saying the new laws are needed because of infrastructure projects. President Aleksandar Vucic said a referendum will be organized on the Rio Tinto mine.

Experts have warned that the planned lithium mine in western Serbia would destroy farmland and pollute the waters.

Rio Tinto has said that it will respect all Serbian laws and denied its project could endanger the environment.

Following decades of neglect, Serbia has faced major environmental problems such as air and water pollution, poor waste management and other issues.

With reporting by AP

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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