An outspoken regime critic and leader of a minority ethnic community has gone missing in Tajikistan. The country’s internet users have largely missed his disappearance. The reactions from those who have paid attention to this case show that xenophobic attitudes run deep within Tajik society.
Category Archives: Politics
A Tajik journalist and critic of the regime is in hospital after being stabbed in Moscow.
The netizens in Tajikistan have little doubt that the attack on the journalist was politically motivated and that it was a taste of things to come in the months leading to presidential elections due in November. Read on Global Voices Online >>
Triggered by the murder of a senior security official, a conflict has recently erupted between government forces and former warlords in eastern Tajikistan. Although many different factors might have played into the government’s decision to order the military operation, at its core the intrusion aimed at completing the regime’s long-term agenda of eradicating former opposition commanders. By ordering the military operation in GBAO, the central government has demonstrated that it will no longer permit former opposition commanders or any other groups or individuals to rival the power of state organs in the country.
BACKGROUND: On July 24, the government of Tajikistan sent special-purpose police units and army troops into Khorog, the capital of the Mountainous Badakhshan Autonomous Province (commonly known by its Russian acronym GBAO), in the country’s east. Hundreds of troops supported by helicopter gunships and armoured vehicles marched into the town on the border with Afghanistan, cutting it off from the rest of the country. Landline, mobile, and internet connections to the isolated region were disconnected.
Officially the offensive was ordered to capture four local strongmen accused by the government of involvement in the killing of Major-General Abdullo Nazarov, the head of the provincial branch of the State Committee on National Security (GKNB, formerly the KGB), on July 21. The authorities claim that the main perpetrator of the general’s death was his subordinate within the regional GKNB branch, Colonel Tolib Ayombekov, who had served as deputy head of a border post on the frontier with Afghanistan. Ayombekov denied the charge. Nevertheless, following the general’s death, the government demanded that Ayombekov and three other local strongmen – Imomnazar Imomnazarov, Mamadboqir Mamadboqirov and Yodgor Shomusallamov – turn themselves in to the police. At the same time, the authorities publicly accused the four individuals of being involved in the smuggling of narcotics, tobacco, and gemstones, and also in human trafficking and banditry.
On May 21, Muhiddin Kabiri, the leader of the opposition Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) announced that his party will reward Tajik athletes who bring home medals from the forthcoming Summer Olympic Games in London. Each medalist will receive a one-bedroom apartment in the country’s capital Dushanbe. Such an apartment can cost anything between US$ 30,000 and US$ 80,000. According to Kabiri, the move aims to support the country’s athletes who manage to achieve results at high-performance international competitions despite limited financial assistance from the government. “Our main goal in offering to reward Olympic success is to support the nation’s sportsmen and to call on other individuals, political parties, and organizations to follow suit,” he said. “Tajik athletes should receive all the support they need because they represent our country and build its image. I will be happy if this also helps to strengthen our party’s image.”
IRPT’s decision to reward potential Olympic medalists has obvious political objectives. In Tajikistan, sports remain severely underfunded and even the top performing athletes often struggle to make ends meet. Therefore, by offering incentives to the Olympians, Central Asia’s only Islamic party aims to demonstrate its willingness to do tangible things for the country. Kabiri appears certain to become IRPT’s candidate for the presidential elections next year. Earning additional public support will help him in challenging the incumbent president, Emomali Rahmon, who will seek reelection for another seven-year term in 2013.
The authorities have also promised handsome cash rewards for Olympic medals. In January, President Rahmon announced that the government will pay the country’s Olympians 300,000 somoni (US$ 63,000) for gold; 250,000 somoni (US$ 52,500) for silver, and 200,000 somoni (US$ 42,000) for bronze medals. The mayor of Dushanbe has also offered one-bedroom apartments for each gold medal; 45,000 somoni (US$ 9,400) for silver, and 35,000 somoni (US$ 7,300) for Olympic bronze. In addition, Tajikistan’s largest private bank, Oriyonbonk, which is owned by a relative of Rahmon’s, has promised that each Tajik medalist in London will receive a luxury car.