Tajikistan opposition leader stabbed in Russia

Tajikistan opposition leader stabbed in Russia

MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Tajikistan opposition leader stabbed in Russia

A file picture taken on September 29, 2010, shows one of the leaders of the Tajik opposition movement, Vatandor, Dodojon Atovulloyev, speaking to the media in Moscow . AFP photo

A prominent critic of the government in Tajikistan was in intensive care Friday after being stabbed in Moscow in an attack which analysts suggested was politically motivated.

Exiled journalist Dodojon Atovulloyev, a leading figure in Tajikistan's opposition movement, was stabbed late Thursday by an unknown assailant, police said.

Atovulloyev had complained of threats and persecution for more than a decade since he fled the impoverished Central Asian state, where the authorities have accused him of seeking to overthrow the government.

"I think this (attack) is first of all linked with his political activity," Aziz Niyazi, a senior fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences's Oriental Studies Institute, told Moscow Echo radio station.

"In the Tajik leadership's eyes, he is their main opponent, who in principle could organise the fall of the regime," Arkady Dubnov, a journalist at the newspaper Moskovskiye Novosti, told the radio station.

Doctors said that Atovulloyev was conscious and had been taken off a life support machine, and would be transferred to a regular ward in the next few days, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Police said that a Tajik citizen had been detained with blood on his hands but had denied responsibility for the attack.

Ex-Soviet Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan, has been led since 1992 by President Emomali Rakhmon, whose rule has been plagued by civil war, corruption, unemployment and alleged electoral fraud.