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Shaikhmuslihiddin Rizoev has received a six-year prison sentence.

A court in Tajikistan's western city of Hisor has sentenced the son of jailed opposition leader Mahmurod Odinaev to six years in prison.

The Hisor City Court's official told RFE/RL of the decision on condition of anonymity because he said he was not authorized to comment.

The official said on March 1 that the court had found Shaikhmuslihiddin Rizoev guilty of hooliganism and attempted rape and sentenced him to six years. The court made the ruling on February 25.

Officials have not released any detailed information on the case and the trial.

Rizoev's father, Mahmurod Odinaev, a deputy head of the Social Democratic Party, was sentenced on January 28 to 14 years in prison on charges of hooliganism and "calling for extremism."

Mahmurod Odinaev (file photo)
Mahmurod Odinaev (file photo)

Another son of Odinaev, Habibulllo Rizoev, was also convicted of hooliganism and fined 58,000 somonis (more than $5,000) at the time. Both men pleaded not guilty during the trial, rejecting the charges as politically motivated.

Mahmurod Odinaev went missing on November 20 after he asked Dushanbe Mayor Rustam Emomali in a Facebook post to allow him and supporters of the Social Democratic Party -- the only opposition party functioning in Tajikistan -- to stage a demonstration over food-price hikes.

On December 5, the Tajik Prosecutor-General's Office acknowledged that Odinaev had been arrested in Dushanbe.

According to the authorities, he allegedly conducted an act of hooliganism in late October in a military draft office where prosecutors say he confronted officials over the conscription of Rizoev.

That came after the Interior Ministry said in November that Shaikhmuslihiddin Rizoev was charged with hooliganism over his alleged involvement in a brawl.

Odinaev said that unknown attackers had severely beaten his son Shaikhmuslihiddin as part of a pressure campaign that was waged against him for his political activities.

The mother of the Rizoev brothers, Mehrinigor Rizoeva, told RFE/RL that all the charges against her sons were politically motivated and linked to the political activities of their father.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, who has tightly ruled the former Soviet republic since 1992, has been criticized for cracking down on opposition political groups, rights defenders, and independent journalists.

The contraband was found after customs officials stopped a truck with diplomatic license plates at the Ukrainian-Polish border. (file photo)

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) says it has disrupted a ring of former and current Ukrainian diplomats accused of smuggling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of goods -- including gold and foreign currency.

In a statement on March 1, the SBU said the diplomats, whose identities were not disclosed, used the diplomatic mail system and diplomatic documents to smuggle excise goods to and from the European Union.

According to the statement, the group of diplomats illegally moved foreign currency, gold, and tobacco items across the border.

The SBU said its counterintelligence officers, along with investigators from the State Bureau of Investigations (DBR) stopped a truck with diplomatic license plates at the Yahodyn customs point on the Ukrainian-Polish border.

Officials of the Foreign Ministry had tried to use the truck to smuggle to the European Union $140,000, 67,200 euros ($81,100), 11,600 Polish zlotys ($3,060), 16 kilograms of gold worth some $530,000, tobacco goods worth of $53,000 at black market, it added.

The statement added that a probe has been launched into the affair, saying the suspects, the number of whom was not made clear, have not been officially charged.

"It is important to shine light on such cases, make them public. We need to break the shameful approach of not taking the trash out of the house. It needs to be taken out or we will be living in trash," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a post on Facebook.

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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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