Tajik Cops Fired, Demoted After Hassling Public Smoochers

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A Tajik police officer has been fired and his boss demoted after the officer stopped and questioned a young couple who were kissing on a Dushanbe street, the Interior Ministry says.

The 19-year-old man who was purportedly engaged in the public display of affection, Aziz Amrishoev, is the son of a city-council member who said she quickly complained to the interior minister over the officers' "medieval beliefs."

The city councilor, Gulnora Amirshoeva, said on Facebook that she intervened with officers after getting a call from her son when he was being hassled.

Amirshoeva said it was the second time her son had been targeted for a public display of affection with his girlfriend.

"I had to go there and explain to the policemen that showing affection in public has not been banned," Amirshoeva wrote on Facebook, urging the police to fight crime and corruption instead. "The officers wanted to take the three of us to the police station but we refused to go.... Soon five other officers arrived. Then I called the interior minister."

Amirshoeva said she also filed an official complaint with the police, demanding an investigation. She also turned to her Facebook page and her nearly 15,000 followers.

Interior Ministry spokesman Umarjon Emomali confirmed the disciplinary action against the police officers on August 11.

"The policemen only wanted to extort money," Amirshoeva later alleged to RFE/RL's Tajik Service, echoing allegations of the widespread solicitation of bribes by the country's law enforcement.

"Know your rights, know the laws, and don't break them," Amirshoeva wrote in another social-media post on August 11.

Amirshoeva, who is a journalist by profession, insists that she acted in the same manner as an ordinary citizen might -- not as a local politician or journalist.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.