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Tajik Activist Sentenced To 17 1/2 Years In Jail

DUSHANBE -- A court in Dushanbe has sentenced a Tajik man to 17 1/2 years in jail for insulting the president, calling for extremist actions, and being a member of the banned opposition movement Group 24.

The Ismoili Somoni District Court in the Tajik capital also ruled on March 4 that Umedjon Solehov cannot be involved in any business activities for five years after completing his jail term.

Solehov was arrested in October after he was seen in an online video of a gathering by Tajik migrant workers in Russia, calling on Tajik President Emomali Rahmon to resign.

Solehov insisted that he had never been a member of Group 24, which is led by fugitive tycoon-turned-opposition-leader Umarali Quvatov.

Last year, Tajik authorities blocked hundreds of websites after Group 24 used social media to call for a mass antigovernment protest in Dushanbe.

Quvatov, who once had close ties to President Emomali Rahmon's family, left Tajikistan in 2012 and is thought to be living in Turkey.

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