Friday, June 24, 2022

MMA Fighter Sentenced 8 Years For ‘Provocative’ Statements

An MMA fighter has received a jail sentence following his deportation from Russia back to Tajikistan last December in the wake of statements he made on social media.

27-year old MMA fighter Chorshanbe Chorshanbiev has officially received a jail sentence of 8 years in his home country of Tajikistan. The sentence was issued on the grounds of Chorshanbiev “inciting ethnic, racial or religious hatred,” and allegedly issuing “public calls for violent change of the constitutional order.”

Chorshanbiev is a native of Tajikistan but identifies as Pamiri, which is an ethnic and religious minority that populates the Gorno-Badakhshan region of the country. The MMA fighter originally made headlines regarding this distinction in January 2020 when he took issue with comments by Russian fighter Nikita Solonin that referred to him as a “Tajik fighter.”

While Chorshanbiev eventually apologized for his response to Solonin, he later attracted the attention of the Tajik government with his social media activity. After a resident of the Gorno-Badakhshan region was shot and killed by a police officer, the Pamiri fighter posted a video speaking out against the incident.

“I urge you to stand up against injustice and against the unjust death of innocent people.”


The lightweight and welterweight fighter had spent the entirety of his MMA career competing in Russia but was arrested for speeding in December 2021 and deported back to Tajikistan shortly thereafter. Chorshanbiev was taken into custody after arriving in Tajikistan for his “provocative” statements on social media and was expected to face up to 15 years in prison.

Chorshanbiev’s jail sentence comes despite the testimony of Yelizaveta Koltunova, a linguistics expert from the Institute of Linguistics and Journalism in Nizhny Novgorod. Koltunova disputed any provocative intent on the part of Chorsanbiev after reviewing the video.

The video was absent of “any psychosocial or linguistic elements of calls for violence, including disruption of the foundations of the society and state,” according to Koltunova.

Following this testimony, the Tajik court requested another linguistic examination of Chorshanbiev’s statements prior to his eventual sentencing to 8 years in jail.

The 27-year old Chorshanbiev most recently competed in MMA at Fight Nights Global 97 in September 2020. He picked up a unanimous decision victory over Radomir Filippov, which brought his professional record to 6-3-1.

What’s your reaction to the news of Chorshanbiev’s jail sentence for his statements on social media?

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