Resident of Qubodiyon district in Khatlon province has reportedly been jailed for participation in a meeting of Tajik opposition organization Group 24 in Russia.

The Khatlon regional court sentenced Said Ziyoyev, 28, to seven years in jail last week.  The sentence followed his conviction on charges of public calls to forcibly change the constitutional system of Tajikistan (Article 307 of Tajikistan’s Penal Code).

Said Ziyoyev reportedly participated in the meeting of Group 24 that took place in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in November 2014.

Saymuddin Qosimov, a lawyer representing Said Ziyoyev, denounced the ruling and vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court of Tajikistan.

According to him, the sentence is based just only on suppositions and one video tape.  “Said Ziyoyev confirmed that he participated in the meeting of the Group 24 activists, but he participated in the meeting that took place on September 29, 2014; meanwhile he is charged with participation in the meeting that took place in November 2014,” Qosimov said.

He also noted that the video tape appeared on September 30, 2014, while Group 24 was banned on October 9, 2014.  

Said Ziyoyev is not the first resident of Qubodiyon district to be jailed for participation in meetings of Group 24 in Russia.  

A court in Dushanbe’s Ismoili Somoni district sentenced Safarali Hasanov, resident of Khatlon’s Qubodiyon district, to five years in prison in May 2016.  The sentence followed his conviction on charges of organization of activity of an extremist group.

Safarali Hasanov was accused of membership in Group 24 and dissemination of ideas of this organization in Tajikistan. 

Hasanov reportedly participated in a session of Group 24 in Russia on November 16, 2014.  Participants of that meeting allegedly called on Tajik labor migrants working in Russia to come to their demonstration and demand resignation of the Tajik government.

Safarali Hasanov was detained in Tajikistan in January this year.

The founding leader of Group 24 Umarali Quvvatov once had close ties with President Emomali Rahmon’s relatives but became an opponent.  He fled Tajikistan for Moscow in the summer of 2012.  There he formed an organization called Group 24, which he claims is a new political movement opposed to incumbent President Rahmon.  He was wanted by Dushanbe on fraud charges that he said were politically motivated.

Quvvatov stayed in Russia and the United Arab Emirates before moving to Turkey.  On December 19, 2014, Umarali Quvvatov was arrested in Istanbul for visa violations, but he was released on February 3, 2015.  Umarali Quvvatov was shot dead by unidentified assailant in Istanbul, Turkey on March 5.

Sharofiddin Gadoyev, 31, was elected new leader of Group 24 on March 12, 2015.  Gadoyev is cousin and business associate of Umarali Quvvatov.  He has been living in Spain since 2013.

Tajikistan’s Supreme Court banned Group 24 on October 9, 2014 following growing government pressure on the opposition group after it used the Internet to call for street protests in the capital, Dushanbe, on October 10, 2014.

Supreme Court judge Salomat Hakimova ruled that Group 24 is an extremist organization, and therefore, it is banned in Tajikistan.  Its website and printed materials were also banned.

In March 2015, three persons were jailed in Tajikistan for alleged association with the Group, receiving sentences ranging from 16½ to 17½ years.  In April 2015, another two persons were sent into prison for 3½ and 3 years for alleged organization of the Group’s activities inside Tajikistan.

Besides, Maqsoud Ibrohimov, leader of the Russian-registered organization “Youth for the Revival of Tajikistan,” was sentenced to 17 years in prison on June 24, 2015.  He was member of the governing board of the opposition coalition New Tajikistan, which includes Group 24.  Maqsoud Ibrohimov was accused of being member of Group 24 but he denied any association with Group 24.