DUSHANBE, Tajikistan – The Central Asian nation of Tajikistan has blocked social media website Facebook for the third time in twelve months.

Also blocked Thursday was the U.S Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Tajik language service. Internet service providers say they denied access to the sites at the request of communications authorities.

Tajikistan has low levels of Internet penetration, but Internet regulation in the authoritarian former Soviet republic is nonetheless expected to be strict ahead of November’s presidential election.

Emomali Rakhmon has ruled the impoverished country for two decades and expected to easily retain power, but officials remain nervous of any signs of opposition to the government.

via Tajikistan renews Facebook, Radio Free Europe access ban in presidential election year.

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16 January 2013 Last updated at 04:49 ET Help

Afghanistan is the world’s biggest opium producer and it is estimated about a third of the drugs produced there go to Russia and Europe via Tajikistan.

Tajikistan is the poorest country in Central Asia and the rewards that come with trafficking the drugs are hard to resist for its people struggling to make a living along its long and open border with Afghanistan.

With Nato troops preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 there are fears Tajikistan may become even more vulnerable to the trade.

The BBC’s Rustam Qobil travelled to one Tajik village on the border between the two countries where drug dealers try to recruit couriers for their trade.

Listen to the full report on Thursday, 17 January on Assignment on the BBC World Service.

via BBC News – Recruiting drug couriers in Tajikistan.

As many as 53 new small hydropower plants are to be built in Tajikistan by the end of this year, Asia-Plus news agency said on Wednesday citing the head of the Agency for Construction and Architecture under the Government of Tajikistan Abduvali Komilov.

According to him, more than 50 small hydroelectric complexes were commissioned in the country last year.

The Agency for Statistics under the President of Tajikistan, said as of early 2013, the number of small power plants in Tajikistan was 181 with a total capacity of over 15 MW.

Half of these plants are located in districts of republican subordination (90 units with a total capacity of 6 MW). Another 58 units with a 5.3 MW capacity are located in Sughd province, 20 units with over a 3.2 MW capacity in Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous province and 13 with a 686.4 kW capacity in Khatlon province.

via Tajikistan to build 53 small HPP by year end – Trend.Az.

Tajikistan is a transit point for one of the most lucrative drugs routes in the world.

Illegal drugs from neighbouring Afghanistan flood into the country on their way to Russia and Western Europe.

The rewards that come with trafficking the drugs can be hard to resist for Tajik people, who struggle to make a living along the country’s long and open border with Afghanistan.

In many Tajik villages on the border, villagers are sometimes recruited to help smuggle drugs along their journey into lucrative markets.

Prison sentences

Shadia (not her real name), a woman I met in a remote region near the Afghan border, knows only too well about the risks people in her village take when they give in to temptation.

“My husband wanted to buy some flour to make bread and agreed to carry some drugs,” she says.

“The police caught him along with his two brothers. Now they are all in prison.”

Unemployed and with no income, she is looking after her children by herself.

In this remote and impoverished rural community it is virtually impossible to find a job.

via BBC News – Recruiting drug couriers from Tajikistan.

By Lt. Kyle Schlais, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 Public Affairs

BAHRAIN (NNS) — U.S. Navy Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 deployed to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in November as part of a Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), the first Seabee mission in Tajikistan.

In support of the Office of Military Cooperation (OMC) and Tajikistan Ministry of Defense (MOD), the Seabee crew began construction alongside the MOD’s construction force, the Stroibat, on phase one of a $1 million project at the Peace Support Operation Training Center (PSOTC) at Shamsi Base, funded by GPOI.

To help boost the local economy and establish lasting relationships with contractors and vendors, the building materials were procured in nearby street vendor markets by Utilitiesman 1st Class Justin Walker, the Seabee project supervisor, and Air Force contracting officer, 1st Lt. Sunset Lo. The vendors delivered the materials in a timely manner, enabling the project to move forward on schedule.

Throughout the first phase, which included the construction of a new roof, English language lab classroom, kitchen renovations and electrical distribution repairs, the Seabees mentored 10 Stroibat soldiers, teaching them basic construction skills while building strong relationships through coordination with MOD Stroibat forces and communication with high level Tajikistan military officers.

“Working with Stroibat has been a great experience,” said Builder Constructionman Xavier Knowlesball. “It has been educational working through language barrier challenges and I am honored to be a part of the crew.”

Construction Electrician Constructionman Hunter Kiser expressed a similar sentiment.

“It has been an awesome experience working with the local construction force,” said Kiser. “Their hospitality is amazing and made our visit to Dushanbe easy, allowing us to focus on the tasking.”

With the first phase scheduled to conclude in January, planning for the second phase has already begun.

NMCB 133 is currently deployed as a part of engineering support operations throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/nmcb133/.

via NMCB 133 Conducts First Mission in Tajikistan.

New Delhi: Strengthening its overseas footprint, state-run BHEL today said a renovated hydro project with enhanced generation capacity has been commissioned in Tajikistan.

The power equipment major is also implementing hydro projects in Rwanda, Afghanistan, Vietnam, DR Congo and Bhutan.

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has completed the renovation, modernisation and uprating (RMU) of the 2×4.75 MW Varjob hydro power plant of Barki Tojik in Tajikistan. The project is funded by the Indian government.

The company, which had supplied the complete electro-mechanical package for the project, enhanced the capacity from two units of 3.67 MW to 4.75 MW each.

Both the units have achieved uprated full load and are running successfully following the RMU job.

“The successful completion of this project by BHEL will help in strengthening business relations between India and Tajikistan and open a new market for India in Tajikistan,” BHEL said in a statement.

via BHEL renovates, commissions hydro power plant in Tajikistan – NDTVProfit.com.

Tajikistan’s foreign trade turnover last year amounted to $ 5.137 billion, or 15.1 per cent ($ 674 million) more than in 2011, Asia-Plus information agency said today.

According to the Statistics Agency under the Tajik President, the trade balance was negative and amounted to about $ 2.418 billion.

During this period, Tajikistan had foreign trade relations with 102 world countries, in particular with 10 CIS countries and 92 foreign countries.

The export volume of goods last year amounted to more than $ 1.3 billion, or 8.1 per cent more than in 2011. The goods were imported to the country to the amount of over $ 3.7 billion, or 17.8 per cent more than the year before.

The export of finished food products decreased by 52 per cent, machinery and equipment – by 42.6 per cent, non-precious metals and their items – by 18.9 per cent, vegetable products – by 8.2 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011.

via Tajikistan’s foreign trade turnover exceeds $ 5.1 bln in 2012 – Trend.Az.