Relatives Fear Tajik Activist Faces Torture, Prison At Home As Russia Considers Extradition

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DUSHANBE -- Russian authorities have detained a Tajik activist residing in the Kursk region and plan to extradite him to Tajikistan, where he may face torture and imprisonment, his relatives and colleagues say.

Emomali Kholov's relatives and colleagues told RFE/RL that the 30-year-old father of 11 was detained on June 26 in the Kursk region.

Kholov's close associate, Suhrob Jahon, quoted his friend's lawyer as saying that Tajik authorities had requested Russian officials extradite the activist after a criminal case was launched against him in March 2021 on extremism charges.

Kholov used to work as a volunteer at the Center of Tajiks in Russia.

The center was led by Izzat Amon, before he was deprived of Russian citizenship and forced to return to Dushanbe in March 2021 at the request of Tajik authorities, who accused him of financial fraud.

Amon was found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison in October. Earlier this month, a court in Dushanbe handed Amon an additional six years in prison on a separate fraud charge that his relatives have called politically motivated.

Activists and rights groups say President Emomali Rahmon, who has ruled Tajikistan since 1992, has used various levers of power to suppress rights groups and dissent.

Amon's nonprofit organization in Moscow helped Tajik migrant workers find jobs, obtain work and residency permits, and get legal advice.

It was shut down after his arrest and several of its employees and volunteers have complained of being put under pressure by Russian authorities since.

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