Most radio and television broadcasts were cut off without explanation Wednesday in Tajikistan, where anti-government activists have renewed efforts to oust the country's hard-line Communist leader.
Tajikistan is one of several former Soviet republics wracked by violence since the collapse of central power.More than 1,000 protesters have gathered outside the presidential palace in the capital, Dushanbe, for three straight days demanding the resignation of President Rakhmon Nabiyev. They are also demanding greater political and religious freedoms.
Nabiyev's whereabouts remained unknown Wednesday.
Other protesters are holding some 35 hostages inside the palace, including the communications minister and Dushanbe's mayor, said Rakhim Khasanov, a spokesman for the Tajik mission in Moscow.
Tajikistan's Constitutional Committee, a government body monitoring compliance with the constitution, urged that a state of emergency be imposed.
Witnesses said broadcasts by Russian television, Uzbek television and a Russian radio station were cut off this morning. No official explanation was given, although the government has accused outside media of biased reporting about events in Tajikistan.
Unconfirmed reports said Nabiyev fled to a Russian military base, but that was denied by Maj. Gen. Mukreddin Ashurov, commander of the 201st motorized rifle division in Dushanbe.
"President Nabiyev is in Dushanbe and is performing his duties as president," said Khasanov. He declined to say exactly where Nabiyev was.
Nabiyev canceled a scheduled trip to Moscow on Wednesday to sign a bilateral treaty with Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
More than 70 people died during weeks of protest in May in Tajikistan, an impoverished nation of 5.3 million people bordering Afghanistan and China.