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Police Belatedly Investigate Week-Old Attack On Tajik Opposition Leader

Opposition party leader Rahmatillo Zoirov said a man hit him with a metal bar.
Opposition party leader Rahmatillo Zoirov said a man hit him with a metal bar.

DUSHANBE -- Police in Dushanbe have launched an investigation into an assault against Rahmatillo Zoirov, leader of Tajikistan's opposition Social Democratic Party.

Sino district police chief Habib Kahhorov told RFE/RL on November 16 that police were searching for the attackers and collecting evidence in the case.

Police said they had not taken action earlier on Zoirov's complaint about the November 9 assault because they did not receive a written complaint from him.

Zoirov told RFE/RL on November 14 that he was walking his dog late on November 9 in Dushanbe when a man and woman approached him and began hurling insults, calling him "a traitor."

During the heated exchange, Zoirov said a man approached him with a metal bar and struck him.

Zoirov said he threw up his right hand to protect his head. He said his hand was badly injured.

Zoirov said that several police nearby saw the attack but did not help him.

He said he also telephoned police and security officials about the attack several hours later and urged them to find the assailants, but they did not respond to his complaint.

Although his party is officially registered in Tajikistan, it has never been represented in parliament.

Western governments and international human rights groups have repeatedly accused Tajik President Emomali Rahmon's government of stifling dissent and restricting basic freedoms.

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

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