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Tajik Opposition Leader Steps Down Citing Health Issues After Latest Attack

Tajik opposiiton leader Rahmatillo Zoirov

Rahmatillo Zoirov, the leader of Tajikistan's opposition Social Democratic Party for more than two decades, has stepped down citing lingering health issues stemming from an attack he suffered last year.

"My health has been wrong for a few years," the 64-year-old lawyer told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service on May 26.

"Last September, I was severely beaten. The pain in my legs has not disappeared since then. So I wrote a letter to the Political Council asking that the conference not take place and release me. I have to be treated. "

One of the few opposition figures still remaining in Tajikistan, Zoirov was assaulted in September in an incident he describes as politically motivated.

He was also attacked in November 2017 by a couple who called him a “traitor” as one of them beat him with a metal pipe.

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

President Emomali Rahmon has been criticized by international human rights groups for years over his disregard for religious freedoms, civil society, and political pluralism in the tightly controlled former Soviet republic.