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Tajikistan Says Killers of Foreign Cyclists In 2018 Were Financed Via Russian Payment System

Husein Abdusamadov, the lone survivor of five terrorists who killed a group of Western cyclists in Tajikistan in July 2018 (file photo)

The Tajik National Bank says terrorists who killed four foreign cyclists in the former Soviet republic in 2018 were financed via the Russian payment system Zolotaya Korona (Golden Crown).

Jamoliddin Nuraliev, the first deputy chairman of the central bank, said on February 5 that after the bank became aware of the issue, a new payment system, the National Processing Center, took over the transmission of money transfers from abroad in early December.

Two Americans, one Dutch national, and a Swiss citizen were killed in July 2018 by at least one assailant with a gun and knife after being plowed down by a vehicle in the Danghara district of the Khatlon region, about 150 kilometers south of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe. Three other foreigners -- including one French citizen -- were also injured in the attack.

Tajik security forces killed four people involved in the attack, which they later said was organized by the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT).

The party's exiled leaders have rejected any blame and the Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the killing.

A fifth suspect in the attack was found guilty of murder in November 2018 and sentenced to life in prison.

The Zolotaya Korona payment system has been very popular in Tajikistan with more than 80 percent of remittances by Tajik labor migrants in Russia sent to their families through it.

The National Bank said on February 5 that Zolotaya Korona could be included in the National Processing Center's operations if it finds a correspondent bank in Tajikistan that would agree to assume the risks linked to its operations.