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Independent Tajik Papers Seek To Circumvent Printing Ban

Khurshed Atovulloev, the editor of "Farazh"
DUSHANBE -- The Tajik-language political weekly "Farazh" has been published after a three-week hiatus as a joint publication with the Russian-language weekly "Fakty i kommentarii," RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

"Fakty i kommentarii" devoted eight pages of its November 4 edition, which appeared in a print-run of 4,000, to the latest edition of "Farazh."

"Farazh" and two other independent weeklies, "Paikon" and "Nigoh," were effectively closed down in early October after being deprived of access to printing houses, reportedly on orders from government officials displeased by their allegedly "aggressive" coverage of military operations in the eastern Rasht Valley.

"Paikon" chief editor Jumaboy Tolibov told RFE/RL his newspaper is not looking for such an alternative like the one used by "Farazh," but will wait for a permanent solution.

"Nigoh" chief editor Saymudin Dustov said some 240 journalists have signed a petition asking President Emomali Rahmon to intervene and allow newspapers to resume normal publication.

Last week, the U.S., British, French, and German ambassadors and the Head of European Union delegation expressed their concern to the Tajik Foreign Ministry about the current state of media freedom in Tajikistan. Ministry spokesman Davlat Nazriev told RFE/RL on November 4 that the government did not issue a ban on printing newspapers.

Union of Journalists of Tajikistan head Akbar Sattor told RFE/RL that one newspaper cannot permanently be the "guest" of another, and "Farazh" should continue to look for a permanent solution to its problems.

Another Tajik media expert, Mukhtor Boqizoda, stressed that while "Fakty i kommentarii" showed commendable journalistic solidarity by hosting another newspaper, it cannot do so on a permanent basis as each newspaper has its own readership.