A court in Tajikistan has recently sentenced a former minister and emerging opposition leader to 26 years in prison on charges seen as politically motivated. Since his arrest in May 2013, Zayd Saidov has become a symbol of resistance to the repressive state for many opposition activists, journalists, and intellectuals in the country.
Among social media users, however, there is no agreement on whether Saidov's imprisonment should be condemned or celebrated. For some netizens, the former tycoon is no hero. Blogger Kharsavor Kharsavorovich asks [ru]:
Could someone please explain to me how exactly Zayd Saidov has become our local Khodorkovsky [Russian oligarch who became a hero for many Russians after his imprisonment in 2003]? Why is everyone mourning him? He is not the first (nor the last) to be sentenced on politically motivated charges. So, why do so many people speak in his defense?
But Rustam Gulov suggests [ru] that Saidov has already become a hero for many Tajiks:
[W]hatever one says about Zayd Saidov, nobody actually sees him as a criminal. On the contrary, in the eyes of most people, he is now a victim, a victim of the machinery of the state, a political victim…
His reputation is growing; people pity him, respect him, learn from him, and write articles about him…
[After some time], people will start imitating him!