Tajikistan blocks Facebook access to silence critics
By Roman Kozhevnikov
DUSHANBE (Reuters) - Tajikistan has blocked access to Facebook in response to a slew of comments spreading "mud and slander" about veteran President Imomali Rakhmon and officials in the Central Asian republic.
The ban on the popular social networking site is the latest crackdown on dissent in Tajikistan a year before an election that could extend Rakhmon's two-decade rule.
Beg Zukhurov, head of the state-run communications service that is enforcing the ban - the second time Tajikistan has blocked Facebook this year - accused unnamed donors of paying users to post negative comments about "respected figures".
"The best representatives of the public - among them academics, doctors and important cultural figures - are tired of the stream of mud and slander that flows from the website called Facebook," Zukhurov told Reuters by telephone on Tuesday.
"With this public support, a decision was taken to block this site, where some people are receiving $5,000 to $10,000 for every critical comment that they post."
He did not offer any evidence for this allegation or say who might be funding these posts.
Rakhmon has ruled since 1992 in Tajikistan, an impoverished ex-Soviet republic of 7.5 million people lying on a major transit route for Afghan drugs to Europe and Russia.
Victory in a November 2013 election would give the 60-year-old former cotton farm boss a further seven years in charge of a country still finding its way after a civil war in the 1990s that killed tens of thousands. Continued...