DUSHANBE, November 27, 2012, Asia-Plus  -- Head of Tajik communications service agency has expressed discontent with posting of what he said “unchecked and inaccurate information of challenging and insulting nature on a social networking service, Facebook.

Beg Zuhurov, Head of the Communications Service under the Government of Tajikistan, considers that Faces resolved commercial issues rather than the social ones.

Representatives from the communications service agency say that they have allegedly received numerous complaints from citizens indignant at “the flow of slanderous materials abut the republic and certain officials.”

Beg Zuhurov says observers from a special group monitoring online publications and websites for insulting or libelous content report on articles critical of Tajikistan and Tajik officials and entrepreneurs.       

Meanwhile, Russia’s news agency, Itar Tass, reports that the tajik authorities deny their restricting access to Facebook, which enjoys popularity in the country and involves almost 50,000 users there.

The communication service agency head, Beg Zuhurov, told Itar Tass on November 26 that he has given no instructions to block access to Facebook.

“I personally several times logged in to Facebook with no problems,” he said, stressing that “possibly some providers experienced some technical problems”.

Indeed, a number of providers ensure access to Facebook, including the oldest in the country Tajik Technology, Itar Tass reported.  “We received neither verbal nor written instructions about restrictions and we operate in a routine regime,” its representative was quoted as saying by Itar Tass.

We will recall that a number of Internet providers in Tajikistan blocked access to the Facebook social network.  They said they had blocked access to Facebook following a verbal order from the communications service agency.   

According to Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, the communications service agency head, Beg Zuhurov, said Facebook was blocked for what he called “technical reasons,” but he did not give further details.

RFE/RL quoted Asomuddin Atoyev, the chairman of Tajikistan''s Association of Internet Providers, as saying that that despite the full or partial block on Facebook there were many ways to connect to the social network.  He noted that the action by the Tajik authorities was illegal and hurt Tajikistan''s image internationally.

This year, access to Facebook has been blocked in Tajikistan for the second time.  We will recall that Tajik authorities blocked access to Facebook in early March this year.

The kerfuffle over Facebook began on March 2, when, apparently reacting to an article severely criticizing Tajik President, Emomali Rahmon, authorities blocked the site where it originally appeared, Zvezda.ru, and three others, along with Facebook.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticized the “worrying development” and urged Dushanbe to restore access to the sites.  “Despite occasional blocking of certain websites in Tajikistan, Internet has remained largely free,” the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, said.  Freedom House also condemns Tajikistan’s state-run communications agency for ordering internet service providers to block access to Facebook and at least three Russian-language websites after the sites published an article critical of President Emomali Rahmon entitled “Tajikistan on the Eve of a Revolution.”

The government and the communications service agency both refused to comment on the matter.  Tajik authorities lifted their weeklong ban on the social networking site Facebook on March 10.