Published On: Wed, Jan 30th, 2013

Tajikistan: Social Media Backlash Against Judges’ Censorship Rulings VPN

“Judges in Tajikistan are like Elite Prostitutes”

By Mahina Shodizoda from Global Voices

The judiciary in Tajikistan has recently attracted more than its usual share of criticism from the country’s social media users. Two recent high-profile cases brought before the courts in Dushanbe, the country’s capital, have been widely discussed in blogs and on news forums. The first case concerns a suit filed last November by the capital’s mayor against Muhiddin Kabiri, an MP and head of Tajikistan’s Islamic Revival Party (IRPT). The suit demanded that Kabiri apologize for his criticism of the massive felling of trees in Dushanbe. Yesterday, the court ruled [ru] that Kabiri should offer the mayor’s office a public apology.

Among many other comments provoked by the news about the court ruling, Nazar wrote [ru] on the website:

Уважаемый Кабири, теперь вы можете представить себе как работает наша судебная система , хоть вы и депутат вас это тоже затронуло, а простые люди сталкиваются с этими судами каждый день !!!

Dear Kabiri, now you get a sense of how our judicial system works. You are an MP, and yet you have had an unpleasant encounter with this system. As for ordinary citizens, we encounter these courts every day!

A mosaic of Themis, the Hellenic goddess of justice, at the Tajik Constitutional Court in Dushanbe. Photo by Alexander Sodiqov (2011).

A mosaic of Themis, the Hellenic goddess of justice, at the Tajik Constitutional Court in Dushanbe. Photo by Alexander Sodiqov (2011).

On, Teocrat slammed [ru] the ruling:

Что это за маразм?! Он – председатель оппозиционной партии должен видя все недостатки экологии в Душанбе ручки целовать мэру?! Кто если не оппозиционер имеет право критиковать правительство?! Кто если не депутат имеет право высказываться от имени народа в отношении действия исполнительных властей?!

Читаю эту новость и берет отчаяние, что насколько наши суды зависимы от исполнительной власти, что тупо и бессовестно принимают такие решения, которые настолько необоснованны, насколько это вообще возможно!

How stupid is that?! Should he [Kabiri], as head of an opposition party, disregard Dushanbe’s environmental problems and kiss the mayor’s hands?! Who has the right to criticize the government if an opposition politician doesn’t have it? Who has the right to speak on behalf of the people about the activities of executive bodies if an MP does not have such a right?

I feel desperate after having read the news. [I feel desperate] because our judiciary is totally dependent on the executive branch; they make rulings that are as unjustified as they can possibly be.

The second controversial case concerns a court suit filed yesterday by Rustam Khukumov, the son of a powerful Tajik official who happens to be a close relative of the country’s president. Khukumov asks [ru] the court to ‘protect his dignity and reputation’ which was allegedly damaged by Dushanbe-based newspaper ImruzNews. The newspaper has apparently angered Khukumov by asking why exactly the powerful official’s son was released from a Russian prison less than a year after being sentenced to almost ten years for narcotics smuggling. In his suit, Khukumov demands that the newspaper pay him 50,000 somoni (roughly $10,000) in ‘moral damages’, and that the hearing is held ‘behind closed doors’.

Blogger Teocrat reacted [ru] to this with anger:

Слушай, Рустик! Ты вообще мужик?! Отсидел в тюряге, об этом написали журналисты. Что же тут не так? Какой, блин, моральный ущерб? А то, что тебя – сына таджикского чиновника с наркотой в РФ поймали? Это не унижает честь и достоинство правительства и таджикского народа?! Может и нам на тебя в суд подать за то, что народ позоришь?!

А что касается его иска, то после всего того, что вижу в судебной системе страны, то, думаю, его удовлетворят! А что? Иск подал не простой чувак, а сын таджикского чиновника! Пусть даже и наркокурьер, пусть даже и получивший наказание, но всё же он не такой как все остальные – «бачаи раисай»! «ИмрузНюс» придется раскошеливаться!

Listen up, Rustam! Are you a man anyway? You were in prison, journalists reported about it. What is wrong with it? What kind of ‘moral damages’ are you talking about? And the fact that you, the son of a Tajik public servant, were caught smuggling narcotics to Russia – doesn’t it damage the dignity and reputation of the government or the Tajik people?! Maybe we should also take you to court for bringing shame on the country’s people?

As for the suit, I think the court will rule in [Khukumov's] favor, because I can see what is going on in the country’s judicial system. The suit has been filed by the son of a Tajik official, not an ordinary guy! Even if he is a [former] narcotics smuggler who was put in jail – he is still the ‘boss’s son’. ImruzNews will have to pay!

Blogger Kharsavor was even blunter in his reaction [ru]:

Вряд ли у кого-то возникает хоть малейшее сомнение в том, что суд согласится с Хукумовыми и обяжет ImruzNews заплатить штраф, 50,000 сомони. Такова наша судебная система. Она коррумпирована насквозь. В делах, где хоть немного замешаны интересы политически влиятельных людей, судьи выносят вердикты так, как им прикажут. В менее заметных делах исход решают деньги. Судьи продаются и покупаются. Это ни для кого не секрет. Выходит, что наши судьи как наемные работники, или даже как проститутки – все пожелания клиента исполняются за надлежащую оплату.

Hardly anyone doubts that the court will rule in Khukumov’s favor, obliging ImruzNews to pay the 50,000 somoni fine. This is what our judicial system is like. It is corrupt throughout. In cases which even indirectly touch upon the interests of political elites, judges rule as they are ordered to. In lower profile cases, rulings are determined by money [offered as bribes]. The judges are easy to sell and buy. This is not a secret to anyone. Therefore, our judges are similar to contracted employees, or even prostitutes – they satisfy all wants of their clients for an appropriate payment.

On, Rustam draws [ru] a similar comparison:

Судьи в Таджикистане как элитные проститутки – удовлетворяют только VIPперсон.

Judges in Tajikistan are like elite prostitutes – they only satisfy the desires of VIPs.

Yet another reader, Buzurgmehr, suggests [ru] that it is perfectly understandable why judges cannot always be independent in their rulings:

Ne nado rugat’ sudey – oni takie zhe lyudi kak i my s vami. Im nuzhno zhit’, nuzhno stavit’ hleb na stol. Oni eto delayut tak, kak im pozvolyaet nashe gosudarstvo. I im sootvetstvenno ne hochetsa portit’ otnosheniya s predstavitelyami elity, grobit’ svoyu kar’yeru i lishat’ svoih detey hleba iz-za kakogo-to Kabiri ili kakoy-to gazety. My zhivem v feodal’nom gosudarstve, poetomu i poryadki u nas tozhe feodal’nie.

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