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Oleg Panfilov,
project Manager,

Dmitry Alyaev,
chief editor,

Roman Zyuzin,
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Adil Dzhalilov,

a diamond stylus,

Nargis Zokirova,
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Lyudmila Burenkova,
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lyuda [at] cjes.ru

Elena Dorokhova,
Right or stick?
Legislative barriers do not allow creating new media in Tajikistan
Marat Mamadshoev
In Tajikistan, for more than a year, licenses for the opening of television and radio stations have not been issued, and since the end of last year the process of registering print media has actually ceased.

Rajabali Maraimov (better known as Rajabi Mirzo) managed to register his newspaper Ruzi Nav in just a few days. But that was two years ago in August 2003, when some international organizations, in particular “reporters without borders”, considered Tajikistan to be a forerunner of freedom of speech not only in the region, but also in the entire CIS. However, now, according to Mirzo, the situation is completely different. Another Tajik journalist, the chief editor of the newspaper Nerui Sukhan, Mukhtor Bokizoda, recently managed to register another newspaper in the Ministry of Culture of Tajikistan, “Asri 21”. However, he doesn’t know if he can release it now, because he doesn’t know how legitimate it will be without her being registered with the Ministry of Justice.

According to experts of the National Association of Independent Mass Media of Tajikistan (NANSMIT) in the report “Freedom of Speech in Tajikistan (1999-2004)” from May 2002 to November 2004, there was a kind of “dual power” when registering print media. By law, print media were required to receive the opinion of the Ministry of Culture and be registered in notary offices. In fact, according to NANSMIT, in Tajikistan there are quite a few newspapers registered by the Ministry of Culture without the right of a legal entity. And for a long time they worked without any problems. However, in the mentioned “Report” it is noted, “on the eve of the pre-election parliamentary campaign, at the end of 2004, state authorities noticed this discrepancy in law enforcement practice. They used this moment so that on the eve of important political events in the republic new alternative media would not be registered. According to some data, at the end of 2004, 30 applications for media registration were in the authorized state authorities (Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Culture). ”

The head of the department of publishing, printing, periodicals and the book trade of the Ministry of Culture Mirzobadal Badalov, acknowledged that such problems exist. And they were forced to refuse to those who wish to receive a certificate of newspaper seal. According to Badalov, this is due to the inconsistency of the old laws on the press, publishing and the Civil Code, and the law on registration of legal entities adopted on its basis. Last year, a law was passed on the registration of legal entities (according to which this process was transferred to the exclusive competence of the Ministry of Justice - author's note), and as Badalov states: “We later learned about its adoption and issue certificates for registering new newspapers ”and only in October 2004 did this practice cease.

The second year between the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Justice of Tajikistan there are disputes over who should register the newspapers. A working group has now been created, which includes representatives of the Ministries of Culture and Justice to resolve legal conflicts. However, even an approximate date, when they can solve these problems, has not yet been named. Earlier, in February 2004, the process of issuing licenses to new television stations was officially discontinued. According to the Deputy Director of the State Inspection of Television, Barakatullo Abdulfayzov, this was also caused by legal conflicts that arose after the adoption of two legislative acts regulating this sphere. At the same time, amendments and additions were made to the Law on Television and Radio Broadcasting, according to which licenses, henceforth, were to be issued by the government. Later, in May 2004, another law was passed “On licensing certain types of activities”. It took a new Regulation to detail the procedure for issuing licenses, which the government also had to develop.

Opposition politician, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, Rakhmatillo Zoyirov, believes that the reason for these legislative barriers is that the authorities are trying to keep control over the media. “On the eve of elections, at first parliamentary and now presidential authorities are afraid of losing control over information flows,” he said.

Independent journalist Munavvari Munavvarzod agrees with this opinion and believes that this problem should be solved taking into account positive international experience and “to introduce the principle of notification, rather than permissive, registration in the West. If the law is contrary to the public interest, then it should be abolished. ” Also according to him, it is necessary to simplify the conditions for obtaining a license for television and radio organizations.

Zulfiddin Muminjonov, Deputy Director of the Somoniyen Channel, believes that such problems arise because laws and regulations are adopted without the participation of industry experts. As a result, they have no implementation mechanism.

Badalov and Abdulfayzov, deny that there is any political background in the process of registering newspapers. According to Badalov, the problem lies only in the inconsistency of legal norms, which was not created intentionally. At the same time, he stressed: “We need to break the Tajik mentality. I do not understand why the disgruntled talk about it in the media, or on the streets? If they believe that their rights are infringed, why don't they go to court? ”

Another opinion is shared by Rajabi Mirzo, who said: “We don’t file a lawsuit, not because we don’t consider ourselves wrong. We are sure that any more or less fair court would support our demands. However, I doubt, continued Rajabi Mirzo, that the Tajik court will be like that. When we were no longer printed at the Sharqi Ozod state publishing house, I filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office. Instead of dealing with the management of the publisher, we were given a warning. We agree that freedom of speech cannot be abused, but, we are ready to answer for our actions according to the law. ”

But the representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Tajikistan, Eugenia Benini, is nevertheless convinced that “all problems must be solved in a judicial order. Otherwise, in her opinion, the judicial system will not improve. ”
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