DUSHANBE, August 1, 2012, Asia-Plus – Internet access to Tajikistan’s leading independent news agency Asia-Plus has been cut off again.

Tajik Internet providers blocked access to the Asia-Plus website on August 1 following order from the Communications Service under the Government of Tajikistan.  Internet access to Asia-Plus has been cut off for the third time over the past two months.

In its letter sent to local Internet providers Wednesday morning, the communications service agency again cited “technical reasons” for blocking access to Asia-Plus.

“This confusion with blocking websites has been going on since July 24, when the government forces launched a special operation in Khorog,” said representative of one of companies offering Internet services in Tajikistan.  “Since that time, we have been receiving new addresses of websites to block nearly every day.”

Asia-Plus has decided not to conduct any negotiations with the communications service agency any more.  “There is no point in conducting negotiations with the Communications Service head Beg Zuhurov.  We intend to solve this issue at another level and in another format.  Practice shows that negotiations have drawn blank.  We earlier reached an agreement with Beg Zuhurov that they will inform use of blocking the site.  However, they have never done this,” said the Asia-Plus executive director Zebo Tadjibayeva.  “As far as we know, only courts may decide whether websites can be blocked, not separate ministries.  Besides, we are incurring both financial losses, because we cannot fulfill our obligations to customers and users in full, and moral losses, because such actions undermine our reputation.  Moreover, the main thing is that blocking websites deprives citizens of their right to receive and impart information.  This right is vested by the Constitution of the Republic of Tajikistan.”

Meanwhile, Internet access to Russian TV Channel Vesti has remained cut off for several days.  Some of Tajik Internet providers have also blocked Lenta.ru, Ferghananews.com, and Pamir-vesti.ru.  Besides, the Communications Service on July 26 asked Internet providers to block access to  video sharing website YouTube.