Tajikistan’s government has been accused of using electricity as leverage against its political opponents after officials allegedly cut off power to the family homes of several opposition figures.

Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, reported on October 19 that at least four families -- the parents of self-exiled opposition activists -- claimed in recent days that local authorities have disconnected electricity lines to their homes.  According to Radio Ozodi, they say officials explicitly told them the measures were taken because of their children’s criticism of the Tajik government.

The moves reportedly come as Dushanbe intensified pressure on the relatives of the self-exiled activists after opposition supporters held a protest during President Emomali Rahmon’s visit to Germany last month. 

In Farkhor district in Khatlon province, a 72-year-old Oishamo Abdulloyeva, the mother of self-exiled opposition leader Sharofiddin Gadoyev, says the electricians who cut the electricity lines to her house said that they were doing so on the order of officials.

“I asked the electricians why they were cutting the electricity to my house even though I pay the bills regularly,” Abdulloyeva told Radio Ozodi. “They said ‘there is an order from authorities [to cut your power lines] because your son criticized the Tajik president in Germany.’”

“My son is 38-years old and I am not responsible for what he says,” Gadoev’s mother told RFE/RL, speaking by phone from Farkhor.

Sharoffidin Gadoyev, a former leader of the Group 24 opposition movement, who took part in opposition protests during Rahmon’s September 28-29 trip to Berlin.

Gadoyev, who lives in the Netherlands, has also established the Movement for Reforms and Development of Tajikistan and co-founded the National Alliance, a coalition of opposition groups abroad.

The Berlin demonstration was reportedly organized by Group 24 and the National Alliance.

In the neighboring Vose district, local resident Oisha Mirzoyeva, the stepmother of Group 24 leader Suhrob Zafar, said three electricians visited her house in Kaduchi village on October 12 to disconnect the power lines.

“The head of the district electricity company was among them, too. I asked him if I had any debt in electricity bills as the reason they were cutting my lines, but he said ‘no,’” Mirzoyeva said.  “They told me they had instructions from the government [to cut off the power lines to my house] and that if I had any objections, I should talk to the authorities myself.”

In addition the 47-yer-old Farhod Odinayev, a European-based Tajik opposition activist who took part in the Berlin protest, said his elderly mother in Tajikistan was also left without electricity.

Odinayev used to belong to the banned Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT) and for several months in 2013 led Safo TV, an opposition television channel based in Moscow.

The channel was shut down by Russian authorities the same year.

Odinayev claimed that electricians escorted by police entered the family house in Turdibobo village in Hisor district on October 13 and disconnected the power lines. 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) recorded at least 47 cases of Tajik police detaining the relatives of self-exiled activists following opposition protests during President Rahmon’s visit to Berlin in late September.