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RFE/RL Website, Facebook, YouTube Appear Inaccessible In Tajikistan

DUSHANBE -- RFE/RL's Tajik-language website, Facebook, and YouTube appear to have been blocked again in the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan.

The sites became inaccessible on October 1 hours before an interview by the leader of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT), Muhiddin Kabiri, was broadcast live on the Internet.

The Europe-based National Alliance of Tajikistan, which unites several exiled Tajik opposition groups, conducted the interview.

However, Ilhom Atoev, the deputy chairman of the Tajik Telecommunications Service, told RFE/RL that he was unaware of any blockage.

Facebook became accessible immediately following Kabiri's online interview ended.

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 have been imprisoned, drawing further criticism of President Emomali Rahmon's government from rights groups.

Kabiri has been living abroad since 2015.

Tajik authorities have used the practice to temporarily block RFE/RL's Tajik site, Facebook, YouTube, and other social networks for years.

Rights groups say Rahmon, who has ruled the former Soviet republic 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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