Moscow Says Return Of Tajik Students To Russian Universities On Hold For Now.

DUSHANBE -- Officials at Russia's Education Ministry say the return of Tajik students to universities in Russia remains on hold due to coronavirus restrictions despite others being allowed to come back.

Yelena Gorozhankina and Igor Burulko told journalists in Dushanbe on March 24 that the exact date of when Tajik students can come back to their universities in Russia remains unclear.

On March 20, Russian Education Minister issued a list of 25 countries whose citizens were allowed to return to Russia to continue their studies at universities. Tajikistan was not included to the list, even though Tajik officials have said that there have been no coronavirus cases registered in the country since January 1.

Gorozhankina said that the list had been made by Russia's health watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, and "has nothing to do with neighborly ties between the countries."

There are about 26,000 Tajiks studying at Russian universities, many of whom have been stuck at home and forced to study online since borders were closed due to the pandemic last year.

Many of the students have complained that online studies are very difficult in Tajikistan due to the high costs and poor quality of Internet services available.

Burulko and Gorozhankina said that it remains unclear when exactly Tajik students will be allowed to go back to Russia. Representatives from Rospotrebnadzor, which will make the final decision, were in Tajikistan last week to research the situation at hospitals and medical labs.

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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