Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry says prominent opposition figure Sharodiddin Gadoev has returned to the Central Asian country from abroad and “is sorry for his deeds,” while a colleague claims that he was abducted in Russia.
The ministry said in a brief statement that the 33-year-old leader of the opposition Group 24 movement, who has been living in self-imposed exile in the Netherlands for the last several years, arrived in Dushanbe via Moscow on February 15.
“May the misdeeds I have committed be evaluated in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Tajikistan,” the ministry quoted Gadoev as saying.
According to the ministry, Gadoev also said other Tajiks wanted in Tajikistan should return home.
Gadoev was wanted in Tajikistan on suspicion of smuggling and forgery.
Gadoev’s mother told RFE/RL that she was unaware of her son’s return to Tajikistan.
One of Gadoev’s colleagues, opposition activist Alim Sherzamonov, who lives in a European Union country, wrote on Facebook that Gadoev had traveled to Russia for personal reason and was abducted there and taken to Tajikistan.
In his last post on Facebook, on February 2, Gadoev criticized government plans for a new highway connecting Dushanbe with the city of Bokhtar.
Tajik opposition activists abroad elected Gadoev as the leader of Group 24 in March 2015, days after its founding leader and Gadoev’s cousin, Umarali Quvatov, was shot dead in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Tajik authorities banned Group 24 as extremist after it called on Tajiks to participate in antigovernment protests in Dushanbe in 2014.
At least three people were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in Tajikistan in 2015 after being convicted of belonging to Group 24.
Last year, Gadoev announced that he had created a new movement in the Netherlands called Reforms and Development in Tajikistan.
He said at the time that his new movement’s goal was to establish a “free and democratic society in Tajikistan.”