DUSHANBE, June 25, 2014, Asia-Plus – The Economic and Social Research Council has made statement regarding detention of Tajik researcher Alexander Sodiqov.

“We understand Alexander Sodiqov, a local researcher contracted by the University of Exeter, was conducting research for a project funded by the ESRC when he was detained by the security services on Monday 16 June.

“Mr. Sodiqov’s visit to Badakhshan was for the purpose of carrying out research for an ESRC-funded project ‘Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia’ and to interview a civil society representative in Khorog.

“The ESRC is a UK-based organization which funds independent research into the big social and economic questions of the day.  Our research informs public policies and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organizations more effective.  We are committed to supporting the very best research, with scientific excellence the primary criterion for funding.  All such research opportunities are openly and publicly advertised, highly competitive and only those proposals judged by experts in the field to be of the highest scientific quality are supported.  ‘Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia’ was selected only after a thorough peer review assessment as to its quality and independence.

“We fully support the University of Exeter in its efforts to seek confirmation of Mr. Sodiqov’s whereabouts and assurances regarding his welfare.”

Founded in 1965, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is one of the seven Research Councils in the United Kingdom. It receives most of its funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and provides funding and support for research and training work in social and economic issues, such as postgraduate degrees.

The ESRC''s mission, according to its website, is to: promote and support, by any means, high-quality basic, strategic and applied research and related postgraduate training in the social sciences; advance knowledge and provide trained social scientists who meet the needs of users and beneficiaries, thereby contributing to the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom, the effectiveness of public services and policy, and the quality of life; provide advice on, and disseminate, knowledge; and promote public understanding of the social sciences.