Extremist or victim? Belarus detains former footballer from Tajikistan

Dzmitry Bryliou, a representative of the Belarusian Prosecutor General Office, has unveiled details about the situation of the detained Tajik footballer Parviz Tursunov who is suspected of extremism in his native country.

The man is being held in detention centre Nr 1 in Minsk. The Tajik authorities that count on Tursunov’s being extradited are expected to send documents regarding his case to the Belarusian side.

“After we get all the materials, we will study them and give a legal assessment,” the official said.

On September 18, Tursunov, a former top league football player, was detained at Minsk Airport. In Tajikistan he was suspended due to the refusal to shave his beard off.

A few days ago, Muhamadjon Kabirov, a Tajik political refugee, journalist and human rights activist, was a guest at Studio Belsat. According to him, Parviz Tursunov is an ordinary Muslim who has no relation to radical Islamists. After he was withdrawn from the league, a criminal case was opened against him over the alleged establishing an extremist organization. He had to leave the country and spent some years in Dubai.

The Tajik authorities use all methods to persecute dissidents and drive them out of the country, including charges in participating in ‘wrong’ religious movements and pinning a label of ‘enemy of the people’, Kabirov stressed.