Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Central Asia: Feb ‘08

Investigation into fatal police shooting praised for its balanced, analytical approach.
By IWPR Central Asia
IWPR’s in-depth analysis of possible motives behind a police shooting in Tajikistan has been well received in the region.



In late February, IWPR’s Tajik team produced the report Murder Invokes Ghosts of Tajikistan’s Past. This looked into an incident in Garm, a distant region of Tajikistan, where a special police unit commander from Dushanbe was shot dead by a local police chief in February.



According to the IWPR report, this was more than just an isolation clash, but may reflect lingering civil war tensions.



After the bloody conflict of the Nineties, many Tajik opposition leaders and their supporters were reintegrated, or recruited into police units following a peace deal.



The authorities claimed that the murdered commander, Oleg Zakharchenko was attacked by Mirzokhoja Akhmadov, head of the organised crime department in Garm.



Akhmadov insisted he and his men were the victims of an unprovoked attack and only fired in self-defence. He also claimed that the current government was systematically purging former opposition members.



In covering this murky story, IWPR sent its correspondent to Garm, a small mountain town 150 kilometres east of the capital, and managed to secure an interview from Akhmadov, thus presenting its readers with a complete account.



On their trip to Garm, which was an opposition stronghold during the civil war, the IWPR trainee reporters were also able to counter official suggestions that there was unrest in the town.



Readers in Tajikistan appreciated the story and said it helped them better understand the incident which took place in Garm.



Rukhshona Najmiddinova, OSCE press secretary in Dushanbe, said she liked the story because “in addition to the official version, it includes the opinions of the Garm [officer] and the observers”.



“The story notes that it is not clear which side is telling the truth. I think this story was written far better and more professionally than any other reports in local press on this incident,” she said.



Abdufattokh Vokhidov, monitoring coordinator at National Association of Independent Media in Tajikistan, also acknowledged the usefulness of the report.



“The story had excellent content and structure. There was no such analytical story on this incident in local press. Well done!” he said.

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