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Tajik Islamic Party Labels Sex Video An 'Attack' Ahead Of Elections

Ghalaty Barotova, a member of the Tajik Islamic Renaissance Party (undated; from video)
Ghalaty Barotova, a member of the Tajik Islamic Renaissance Party (undated; from video)

A female member of Tajikistan's Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP) is denying that the woman shown in a scandalous sex video is her.

"It's not me, and obviously the person who has made this video has had only one aim -- to discredit me," says Ghalati Barotova, a 51-year-old grandmother and IRP activist in rural Vose district in southern Tajikistan.

The video, posted on YouTube on November 19, shows a middle-aged woman and a younger man having sex in what appears to be the living room of a private home.

A male voiceover claims the woman in the clip is Barotova and her "young male" friend.

Nearly half of the six-minute clip focuses on women's participation in IRP activities, showing Tajik women wearing Islamic head scarves at various public gatherings and party events.

In one scene, the video shows Barotova apparently attending a public function. Her face partially covered with a white head scarf, Barotova is seen among a group of women smiling and talking before raising her hands in prayer.

The narrator says Barotova has been a prominent member of the party and has traveled extensively around the country to support and advise the party's regional offices.

As a reward for her services to the party, the narrator says, the IRP leadership intends to include Barotova to the list of its candidates for the next parliamentary elections, set for February. (The IRP has not commented on whether it is considering Barotova as a candidate; she says she has no intention of running.)

Repeatedly showing the Islamic party's logo and top leaders, the narrator claims the IRP leadership and its "secret services" have decided to check the background and activities of potential candidates -- including Barotova -- to prevent any unpleasant surprises during the campaign.

'Nothing To Do With It'

In a thinly veiled allegation that the video was made with the IRP's knowledge, the narrator claims, "unfortunately, the party's inside investigation disclosed an appalling scene."

The second half of the clip shows the woman and man, whose face is pixelated, kissing and fondling each other before having sexual intercourse.

Describing the video as "shocking and degrading," Barotova says she has "nothing to do with it."

"I want to repeat that I am not the woman in the video," Barotova says. "The woman in the video is much younger than me. It's slander."

Barotova, who has four grown children and 12 grandchildren, says she fears the video will "tarnish her name" among her family and community.

Barotova says that in her native village of Qurbon-Shahid she is known as a religiously devout person who is often invited to private functions to "recite the Koran as a female mullah."

Barotova says she has "six scars from surgeries and other marks" on her body that "you don't see on the body of the woman in the video."

Barotova says she insisted on having female IRP members have a look for themselves to corroborate her claim.

The IRP is standing behind Barotova and backs her side of the story.

"This is a smear campaign against the party by certain agencies," says Zurafo Rahmoni, an IRP adviser on legal issues. Rahmoni doesn't explicitly blame anyone but says, "It’s part of an ongoing attack on IRP ahead of the elections."

"It's an unhealthy tactic," Rahmoni tells RFE/RL.

The IRP, the only officially registered Islamic party in Central Asia, has two seats in the current parliament, which is dominated by the ruling People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan.

After examining the video, prominent Tajik filmmaker Barzu Abdurazzoqov said he believes the video may have been filmed with at least two cameras secretly installed in the room. It looks preplanned, Abdurazzokov said.

Not The First Case

A number of sex tapes purporting to show Tajik mullahs and other religious figures in flagrante delicto have surfaced on the Internet in the past two years.

Among them was video footage of a Dushanbe mullah kissing and touching a woman as part of her infertility treatment.

In another case, a Dushanbe imam made waves when homemade videos featuring him having sexual intercourse were posted on the Internet.

Several other religious figures -- including some with links to the IRP -- have been arrested and charged with sexual crimes.

Barotova says she is not suing anyone over the latest sex tape.

"I don't have the money to take anyone to court," she says. "I hope God punishes the people who did this against me. I just want to be left alone."

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    Khiromon Baqozoda

    Khiromon Baqozoda is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL's Tajik Service in Prague.

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    Farangis Najibullah

    Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate and reintegrate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

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

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