DUSHANBE, January 17 (RIA Novosti) – Tajikistan has once again blocked access to the popular social networking site Facebook, prolonging a months-long ordeal that has earned the Central Asian country widespread criticism.
The blocking order came from the chief of Tajikistan’s communications service, Beg Zukhurov, and also affects three other websites, including Radio Liberty's Tajik service, Internet provider Telekom Tekhnolodzhi told RIA Novosti late Wednesday night.
This is the second time in nearly as many months the Tajik authorities have blocked Facebook access. Last November, access was cut off after officials found what they said was slanderous content that criticized the country’s leadership.
At the time, Zukhurov blasted the people responsible for the content, who he claimed were being “paid well” to post it. He also noted that officials were acting on the requests of “indignant Tajik citizens.”
The move earned criticism from the European Union, which in early December called on Tajikistan to relax control over the Internet amid concerns of a crackdown on freedom of speech.
The EU Delegation to Tajikistan noted "with concern that such obstruction occurs frequently in Tajikistan which raises questions about the state of media freedom," according to a December 6 statement posted to its website.
The administration of President Emomali Rakhmon, who has been in office since 1994, has often come under fire for alleged corruption and undemocratic behavior.