Tajikistan has announced plans to step up pressure on Internet users critical of the government. Officials are launching a public organization to monitor online publications for foul language and instances of libel or insult of public figures, including President Imomali Rahmon, according to Reuters.
The volunteer-run organization, which is still waiting to be registered with the Justice Ministry, has already started its work, according to the head of the country’s communications service, Beg Zukhurov, who announced plans for the group 13 July.
Zukhurov told reporters that the group had already dealt with several users who had insulted “well-known personalities,” though he declined to give specifics about what powers or responsibilities it has other than to “track down and identify” the authors of offensive comments.
Asked what would happen to these authors, Zukhurov said, “I don’t know. Probably, they will be shown the error of their ways,” according to Reuters.
Tajikistan has recently tightened its grip on the web. Internet service providers, under the direction of the communications services, cut access to Facebook and two news sites in March after they published an article critical of the president titled, “Tajikistan on the eve of a revolution.” Last month, access was blocked to Asia-Plus, an independent news site, after editors refused government requests to remove comments that included insults to officials.
Image courtesy of David Trilling, Eurasianet.org