Tajik Businessman Vanishes After Arrest

July 08, 2011
KULOB, Tajikistan -- The whereabouts of a prominent businessman from southern Tajikistan who was taken into custody last week remains a mystery, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Nurullo Rustamov told RFE/RL on July 7 that his brother Safarmad Rustamov -- aka "Kabood" (Blue) on account of his blue eyes -- was detained by Kulob police and may have been taken to Dushanbe.
Nurullo Rustamov said his family had not been informed what has happened to Safarmad, whose mobile phone has been turned off.
A source in the Kulob police told RFE/RL's Tajik Service on July 7 on condition of anonymity that Safarmad Rustamov was accused of several crimes, including organizing an illegal group.
Local journalist Ahmad Ibrohim told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that Rustamov's detention might be connected with the riots that broke out last month in Kulob after angry fans of the local soccer team, Ravshan Kulob, accused referees of favoring the Istiqlol team, of which President Emomali Rahmon's son is a member.
Istiqlol beat second-place Ravshan 1-0 in Kulob on June 14 with a goal in the 90th minute. One week later, some 40 Ravshan supporters were detained in Dushanbe for rioting after their team's victory in the country's top soccer league.
But Ravshan deputy manager Akram Huseynov said that Rustamov never provided any financial support to the club.
Kulob deputy prosecutor Ozar Isoev rejected the speculation about Safarmad Rustamov's possible involvement in the rioting by Ravshan fans. He said 16 people were suspected of participating in the riots and four of them remain in custody, but Rustamov is not one of them.
Local experts consider Rustamov a close ally of Rahmon's brother-in-law, Hasan Asadullozoda. Rustamov heads the branch in Khatlon province's Muminobod district of Asadullozoda's Orienbank.