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Tajik Authorities Detain Missing Opposition Leader On 'Hooliganism' Charge

Mahmurod Odinaev is the deputy chairman of the opposition Tajik Social Democratic Party. (file photo)
Mahmurod Odinaev is the deputy chairman of the opposition Tajik Social Democratic Party. (file photo)

DUSHANBE -- Tajik authorities say they have detained opposition leader Mahmurod Odinaev on a hooliganism charge days after the politician went missing.

The Tajik Prosecutor-General's Office said that Odinaev, deputy chairman of the opposition Social Democratic party, was located and arrested on December 5 in Dushanbe.

According to the statement, Odinaev allegedly conducted an act of hooliganism in a military draft office in the western city of Hisor in late October, where prosecutors allege he confronted officials over the conscription of his son Habibullo.

Just three days before Odinaev's arrest, Interior Ministry spokesman Nusratullo Mahmudzoda said that police were been looking for the politician who had been missing for several days, citing the lack of a request from his relatives.

Relatives of Odinaev told RFE/RL that he went missing on November 20 after he posted a request on Facebook asking Dushanbe Mayor Rustam Emomali to allow him and his party's activists to stage a protest over food-price hikes.

According to the relatives, they officially turned to police several times to ask law enforcement officers to begin a search for the missing politician. The relatives also said police questioned them regarding the Odinaev's mysterious disappearance.

The Interior Ministry said last month that Odinaev's son, Shaihmuslihiddin Rizoev, was charged with hooliganism over his alleged involvement in a brawl.

Earlier in October, Odinaev said that unknown attackers had severely beaten his son, adding that the assault was a part of a pressure campaign being waged against him for his political activities.

The Social Democratic Party is the only opposition party currently functioning in Tajikistan.

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.