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Tajik Opposition Activist Detained In Belarus, Faces Extradition

Tajik oppositionist Farhod Odinaev (file photo)
Tajik oppositionist Farhod Odinaev (file photo)

MINSK -- A Tajik opposition activist has been detained in Belarus at Tajikistan's request and may be extradited to Dushanbe, Belarusian rights group Human Constanta told RFE/RL.

The group’s Nasta Loyka said on September 26 that authorities detained Farhod Odinaev, who holds Tajik and Russian passports, at a checkpoint along the Belarusian-Polish border a day earlier.

According to Loyka, Tajik authorities want Odinaev for allegedly being a member of a banned organization.

The 42-year-old opposition activist used to belong to the banned Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT) and for several months in 2013 led Safo TV, an opposition television channel based in Moscow.

The channel was shut down by Russian authorities the same year.

Representatives of IRPT living in exile told RFE/RL that Odinaev had recently obtained a Polish visa to take part in a human rights session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Warsaw.

Polish-based Muhammadjon Kabirov, who runs the Eurasian Dialog institute that helps Tajik newcomers adjust to Polish society, told RFE/RL that he informed OSCE officials about Odinaev's detention in Belarus and called on them to assist in his release.

The IRPT, long an influential party with representatives in the government and parliament, was labeled an extremist and terrorist group and banned in 2015 -- moves the party and human rights groups say were unjustified and politically motivated.

Dozens of IRPT officials and supporters have been prosecuted and many of them imprisoned, drawing further criticism of President Emomali Rahmon's government from rights groups.

IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri has been living abroad since 2015.

Rights groups say Rahmon, who has ruled Tajikistan since 1992, has used the security forces and other levers of power to sideline opponents and suppress dissent.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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