Tajik activist Amriddin Alovatshoev (file photo)
DUSHANBE -- A leader of Tajik migrants in Russia, Amriddin Alovatshoev, who was extradited to Tajikistan earlier this year, has gone on trial in Dushanbe on charges of hostage taking, illegal depriving others of their freedom, and "other crimes" that his relatives call trumped-up.
The trial, chaired by a judge from the 44-year-old youth leader's native region of Gorno-Badakhshan, started in the Tajik capital on April 29.
Alovatshoev went incommunicado on January 11 and media reports said that he was detained in the Russian city of Belgorod at the Tajik government’s request.
In early February, Tajik authorities said Alovatshoev was extradited to Dushanbe. The developments around the activist coincided with Tajik prosecutors' decision to launch a new probe into four days of demonstrations in the Gorno-Badakhshan region that killed three people and injured at least 17 others in November 2021. On February 12, Tajik state-controlled television broadcast a video of Alovatshoev "confessing" to unspecified crimes. His supporters have insisted that he was under duress when the video was recorded. The protests in the restive province's capital, Khorugh, broke out on November 25 after security forces fatally wounded a local man wanted on charges of kidnapping. The demonstrators demanded a probe into his death.
The rally turned violent when protesters tried to seize the local government building, prompting security forces to open fire on the crowd, eyewitnesses said.
On the same day, a group of people from Gorno-Badakhshan staged protests in front of the Tajik Embassy in Moscow with the same demands as the demonstrators in Khorugh. Alovatshoev was said to be at that rally. During a government meeting in Khorugh on January 10, one official accused Alovatshoev of inciting anti-government sentiment among young people in Gorno-Badakhshan "from abroad."
At least 15 Tajik anti-government activists and opposition supporters have disappeared in Russia since 2015, human rights defenders say.
Some of them have reappeared in Tajikistan -- often in police custody, facing dubious charges ranging from fraud to extremism. The whereabouts of others remain unknown.