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DUSHANBE -- The privately owned Mushfiqi printing house in Dushanbe says that "technical problems" will prevent it from printing several independent weekly publications, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The move has raised suspicions in light of past instances when political pressure from authorities is thought to have disrupted the print runs of other independent publications.

"Sukhan" weekly
Mushfiqi manager Umed Sattarov said the weeklies in question are "Paikon," "Ozodagon," "SSSR," "Millat," and "Borgohi Sukhan."

Sattarov told RFE/RL that Mushfiqi has asked those publications' editors to find alternative printing houses.

"Our printing equipment is broken. We request that they temporarily print elsewhere. We have a very small press that we can only print our own publications with," Sattarov said.

Editor Jumaboy Tolibov vowed that he would find an alternative means of circulating his "Paikon" publication.

Union of Journalists of Tajikistan head Akbar Sattor, who also owns a printing house, said that he is prepared to publish "Paikon" but only for a price that suits him.

Tajik lawyer Shuhrat Qudratov said that the Mushfiqi printing house has an agreement with these weeklies and must fulfill its obligations.

But Mukhtor Boqizoda, a former editor and the head of a local NGO that works to protect journalists' interests, described Mushfiqi's refusal as a message from the authorities that those weekly papers have overstepped government-imposed limits.

Boqizoda said that often when authorities or printing houses cite "technical problems," the problems are in fact political. He recalled that in the past, non-government-sponsored newspapers like "Ruzi Nav" and his own "Nerui Sukhan" found themselves in similar situations and were unable to continue publishing.
KAZAN, Russia -- A Tatar lawyer specializing in human-rights and freedom-of-speech cases is being held in detention in Russia's Republic of Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Rustem Valiullin was detained by traffic police in the town of Almetyevsk, about 250 kilometers east of Kazan, while meeting with a client late on August 2.

Pavel Chikov, head of the Agora Association of Human Rights Groups, said Valiullin sent a text message to his Agora colleagues informing them he had been detained for administrative violations and refusing to comply with police requests.

The Almetyevsk police department confirmed Valiullin was detained.

Valiullin appeared in court on August 3 and was fined 500 rubles ($16.60). He was then released but was detained again almost immediately for refusing to be fingerprinted.

Chikov told RFE/RL the refusal was justified because Valiullin had not been formally charged with any crime.

Chikov said Valiullin was held overnight in a small cell with some 30 other people. Despite the extreme heat, the detainees were given neither food nor water.

Rafis Latypov, head of the Kama human rights organization in Izhevsk, in neighboring Udmurtia, was reportedly traveling to Almetyevsk in an effort to secure Valiullin's release.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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