Authorities in Tajikistan blocked access on June 12 to a widely read, independent online news service.
Dushanbe-based Asia-Plus is still publishing at news.tj
with the help of proxy servers, but the content is not available to Internet users in Tajikistan. Users can, however, continue to access the site’s content on Asia-Plus’ Facebook page
or through widely available proxy servers.
The head of the state agency in charge of IT and telecommunications, Beg Zukhurov, reportedly told Asia-Plus
that the site was blocked because editors refused to pull comments that included slander and insults aimed at high-placed officials.
The website took down one comment Zukhurov found objectionable and he promised the site would be unblocked soon.
Asia-Plus regularly publishes material critical of the government of President Emomali Rakhmon, who has been in office since 1992. While the government jams some foreign news sites, it has not yet blocked such a prominent local source of news. The comments section of Asia-Plus is often full of wild innuendo and libelous anonymous commentary, as are comments sections on news sites around the world. Perhaps a reader wrote something that struck a particular nerve?
Earlier this year Zukhurov had Facebook blocked
along with several Russian-language news portals. He first denied the social network had been blocked, then promised it would be available soon. His office also said the site was down for “prophylactic maintenance.” Within a week, the authorities backed down and Facebook was again available
to users in Tajikistan, many of whom had learned all about proxy servers in the meantime.