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Facebook gets green light in Tajikistan after ban

Dushanbe, Tajikistan:  Officials in Tajikistan have lifted a ban on Facebook after the social network was shut down over complaints about "insults" against the government, a representative of Internet providers said on Tuesday.

The Central Asian nation bordering Afghanistan had repeatedly shut down Facebook in the past.

The latest ban was enforced November 26 after the state-run communications service said it had received complaints about a "deluge of lies" on the social network.

"The state communications service has given providers verbal permission to open access to Facebook," chairman of the association of Internet providers Asomiddin Atoyev said.

"But this is happening slowly, providers are waiting for written instructions from the communications service," he said.

A representative of the state-run service said that the authorities had held a meeting with all of the country's Internet providers on Tuesday.

"If some (of them) have not yet opened access (to Facebook), then they should do so," he said.

The head of the communications service Beg Zukhurov earlier told reporters that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had himself phoned him to inquire about the fate of the network in Tajikistan.

That statement was met with scepticism among Tajik Internet users, with Atoyev suggesting that the official was the victim of a prank.

The United States on Saturday urged the Central Asian country to unblock Facebook and several media websites and "respect individual rights to freedom of expression."

More than 40,000 people including students and even some government members use the hugely popular social networking site in the impoverished country of some eight million people.

Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia ruled by Emomali Rakhmon since 1992, will hold presidential elections next year, and many fear the authorities may further tighten control of the Internet.

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