Rustam Emomali, the eldest son of Tajik president Emomali Rahmon, has been appointed as head of the Tajik Custom Service’s department to combat illegal activities. Rumors about the appointment, which have been circulating in the country over the last two weeks, were confirmed yesterday by the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Tajik service.
This is the latest in a series of promotions for the 23-year-old graduate of the Tajik National University’s International Relations department. Rustam had previously headed a department in the State Committee on Investments and State Property. In 2009, he was named deputy chief of Tajikistan’s youth union and elected a member of the Dushanbe city council. Besides, he was elected a member of the central committee of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDPT), which is officially headed by president Rahmon. In 2010, Rustam also became deputy head of Tajikistan’s football (soccer) federation. Most Tajiks, however, know Rustam as a soccer player in Dushanbe-based Istiklol club, which he happens to own. Unlike most other members of the president’s family, Rustam does not appear to have serious business interests. He reportedly owns a local Internet service provider, Saturn-Online, which brings little profit.
Rustam is not the only child that the Tajik leader has recently promoted to senior positions within the government. In September 2009, Rahmon appointed his 30-year-old daughter, Ozoda Rakhmonova, as the country’s deputy minister of foreign affairs. The latest appointments appear to demonstrate the president’s resolve to further consolidate power in Tajikistan in the hands of his family members.