In Tajikistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has refused to extend the accreditation of several correspondents who file for networks of the United States Agency for Global Media, preventing them from being able to do their work.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Tajik Service says the ministry is currently delaying the extension of accreditation of eight of its reporters at Radio Ozodi in a bid to censor their reporting.
The ministry has also denied extending the accreditation of Anushervon Aripov, who works for Current Time, the 24/7 Russian-language digital network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with Voice of America. The reason? The ministry didn’t like Aripov’s August reporting on President Emomali Rahmon’s visits to farmers’ homes, which some have suggested were tied to his reelection campaign.
This isn’t the first time the ministry used accreditation to retaliate over coverage the government found uncomfortable. In 2016, journalists of Radio Ozodi had their accreditations revoked after the publication of an article about the daughter of President Rakhmon Rukhshona Rakhmonova and her appointment at the Tajik Foreign Ministry.
The U.S. Congress has taken notice. In an April letter to President Emomali Rahmon, members of the U.S. Congressional Press Freedom Caucus wrote: “We understand your concerns about Radio Ozodi’s coverage. In most cases, coverage of events in independent media is not to the liking of politicians and officials, but this is the nature of independent journalism.”
In the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, published annually by the international organization, Reporters Without Borders, Tajikistan ranked 161 among 180 countries.