Charges Against Tajik Journalist and CJFE Award Winner Dropped

Thursday, June 27, 2002
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression is pleased that Tajikistan's Prosecutor-General has dropped its criminal case against Dodojon Atovulloev, editor and publisher of the influential newspaper Chroghi Ruz. Atovulloev, a 2001 recipient of CJFE's International Press Freedom award, has devoted his life to freedom of expression, working to democratize Tajikstan society with his newspaper Charogi Ruz ("Day Light"). The newspaper began as an outspoken journal published in Russian, Tajik and Uzbek, and soon was attacked by supporters of Tajikstan President Imomali Rakhmovov. Atovulloev then moved Charogi Ruz to Moscow, where he continued to publish the newspaper, distributing 20,000 copies a month throughout Central Asia. In May 2001, threats to his life forced Atovulloev and his family into exile in Germany. Charogi Ruz continues to be published, in print and on the Internet at www.charogiruz.ru. The Prosecutor-General's Office had accused Atovulloev of insulting President Imomali Rakhmonov, supporting the violent removal of the constitutional order, and inciting ethnic, racial, and religious hatred. According to a June 21 Interfax news agency report, the Prosecutor-General confirmed that the case against Atovulloev had been thrown out and that the search for him has ended. Though the charges against Atovulloev have been dropped, the journalist is reportedly wary of returning to Tajikistan. "We welcome the decision to drop the case against Atovulloev," CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said. "We urge the authorities to allow him to return to Tajikistan and to carry on his journalistic work without interference." CJFE is a non-profit association of journalists and others committed to promoting and defending press rights and freedom of expression in Canada and around the world. For more information, please contact Joel Ruimy, tel (416) 515-9622, fax (416) 515-7879, email: ruimy@cjfe.org, Web: www.cjfe.org.

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