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Tajikistan Launches Internet Censorship, Targeting the Authoritarian President's Online Critics

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, July 24 2012

Another south Asian state of the Former Soviet Union is introducing Internet censorship. Reuters reports that Tajikistan has announced plans to create a volunteer-run body that would monitor the Internet for citizens who criticize President Imomali Rakhmon. The organization has not even been registered yet, but it is already hard at work:

... an 18-year-old student in Dushanbe said he had recently been detained overnight by the successor agency to the KGB after posting criticism of Rakhmon on his Facebook page.

The student, who was too afraid to be identified, said he had been lectured repeatedly on his conduct. He was not charged with any offence.

"They told me it was dangerous to 'rally people against the president' and that 'everything he does is for the good of the people'," he said. "It was scary. After that, I deleted all my social networking accounts."

According to the article, social media is popular in Tajikistan. The country has 26,000 Facebook users in a population of 7.5 million. Like his fellow authoritarian ruler in neighboring Uzbekistan, where the Internet is strictly controlled, President Rakhmon has been in power for two decades.

The journalists who wrote the piece state matter-of-factly that "tighter Internet controls echo measures taken by other former Soviet republics in Central Asia, where authoritarian rulers are wary of the role social media played in revolutions in the Arab world and mass protests in Russia."

It seems that the potential of social media really is making authoritarian rulers nervous.

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