Praising the “Leader of the Nation”
Now officially titled “Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation,” President Emomali Rakhmon increasingly indulges his authoritarian tendencies, thereby threatening the fragile national consensus built after a civil war that ravaged the country from 1992 to 1997. Government pressure compounded by an economic crisis has resulted in the closure of most independent media outlets, including the newspaper Ozodagon and the website Akhbor, as well as a great deal of self-censorship, and the departure of dozens of journalists into self-imposed exile. Harassment by the intelligence services, intimidation and blackmail are now part of the daily routine for the journalists who have stayed behind, and some have reportedly been blacklisted as “terrorists”. The climate favours self-censorship and impunity for corruption. Khayrullo Mirsaidov, a former journalist who was held for eight months, and Daler Sharipov, a journalist held for a year, were convicted on trumped-up criminal charges. Foreign journalists are either denied accreditation or have to operate under the constant threat of having their accreditation withdrawn. The authorities continue to step up their control of communications using new technology, and have created “troll factories” to discredit critics. The blocking of the main news websites and social media is now virtually permanent.
161 in 2020
55.34 in 2020