MMA fighter handed 8-year jail sentence for ‘inciting riots’

Chorshanbe Chorshanbiev is an MMA fighter that competes at middleweight and has a professional record consisting of 6 victories and 3 defeats – but he might have to put his career on hold considering he was just handed an 8 year prison sentence.

Chorshanbiev was deported from Russia to his native Tajikistan where he was charged by the government for “inciting national and regional hatred” and “inciting riots.”

Chorshanbiev found himself in a predicament following protesting the treatment of a local minority group. Chorshanbiev’s alleged offenses stemmed back to a verbal spat with Russian boxer Nikita Solonin in January 2020.

Chorshanbiev seemed to take issue with Solonin’s description of him as a “Tajik warrior.” He revealed that he is a member of an ethnically separate minority tribe from Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan area.

“What do you mean Tajik? I’m not Tajik. You want to see a Tajik, look in the mirror,” Chorshanbiev stated at the time. “I am a Pamiri, written in big letters. Remember that forever.”

The Pamiri people are an ethnic and religious Ismaili Shia minority in Sunni-majority Tajikistan. In the 1920s, the area became a member of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic. This ultimately developed into the contemporary Tajik state. During Tajikistan’s civil war, the area became a stronghold for the opposition, with many ethnic Pamiris supporting the central government.

That tension persisted, culminating in a confrontation with the central government in November 2021.

Chorshanbiev reportedly published provocative social media messages. He was also involved in promoting national and regional hate and inciting riots, according to the Prosecutor General’s office.

Chorshanbiyev used social media at the time to express his support for the Pamiri:

“I urge you to stand up against injustice and against the unjust death of innocent people,” he urged as per bloody elbow.

Tajik authorities filed criminal charges against Chorshanbiyev because he supported the opposition. The boxer was residing in Moscow at the time.

However, Russian officials deported him in January 2022 when local police arrested him for speeding. According to critics, Chorshanbiyev was deported at the request of the Tajik government.