Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 284 - (27/08/04)
The Tajiks are in a predicament. They are convinced by the
evidence of other countries that communism was a bad thing, in the long run. But
they were far better off under communist rule than they are now.
Independence in 1991 increased Tajikistan's freedom, most notably its religious
freedom, but its inhabitants have struggled to build a self-sustaining economy
or one that could make use of the country's high level of literacy.
"Life was very good here during Soviet times," explains Yorali, a
local artist who like most Tajiks has one name.
"Now the only people who live above subsistence level work for aid
organisations or traffic drugs, and that's only about 10% of the
population," Yorali says. He is one of the lucky ones: In addition to being
an artist, he works for the Aga Khan Development Network trying to find new
markets for traditional Tajik handicrafts. His salary of US$70, or nearly €60,
per month is far above the local average of US$15.
The literate legacy of the Soviet Union
It is worth remembering that the Soviet legacy was not wholly bad; it did
involve a very high degree of education. More than 99% of the population in the
Badakhstan province in the Pamir mountains is reckoned to be literate. The
people of this area are Shia Ismaili Muslims, and they revere their 49th imam,
the Aga Khan, as their spiritual leader. To some extent, donations from his
foundations have replaced Soviet-era subsidies. Getting Yorali to talk about the
network's projects, though, can be difficult. Over vodka and cigarettes, he
prefers discussing Pushkin and Dostoyevsky, and, of course, his art. When you
ask him what he does, he replies that his is first an artist, second an aid
Anomalies in government media policy
Declaring he wants to foster press freedom in Tajikistan, President Imomali
Rakhmonov has called for significant tax breaks for the country's newspapers and
periodicals. However, the Tajik government appears in no hurry to implement
Official foot-dragging, along with the fact that broadcast media outlets would
not be eligible for tax breaks, has produced frustration among journalists. Some
media observers suggest that Rakhmonov is more concerned with enhancing his
public image than with encouraging an independent press.
Rakhmonov, in a March 20 address, spoke of a need to promote a greater degree of
freedom in Tajikistan's "information space." At present, there are no
daily newspapers in Tajikistan, and the majority of publications are
state-owned. The Tajik president outlined a print-media expansion strategy, the
central element of which is an exemption from paying the 20 per cent value added
"In order to develop [print] media further and ensure its independence …
the Tajik government is instructed to exempt them from the VAT," Rakhmonov
At the same time, the president indicated that the concept of press freedom
remained open to subjective interpretation. "The media, regardless of its
ownership, is equally responsible for observing the current laws and ensuring
the country's information and cultural security," Rakhmonov said.
"This responsibility demands of journalists a developed sense … of
patriotism and the protection of Tajikistan's state and national
Print journalists were initially encouraged by Rakhmonov's words. But optimism
has been dulled by a lack of government action. From the start, officials have
been vague on implementation details.
"I cannot name a date of the VAT cancellation for printed media. The
government must decide this. To begin with, this offer must be studied and then
it is necessary to adopt some laws. Although it is possible that if they do
adopt a similar law, it will be included in the new Tax Code, which is probably
going to be put in place next year," the Deputy Minister for State Revenue
and Duties Bakhtier Sultonov told the newspaper Asia Plus in early April.
At present, the Tajik parliament is reworking a bill on tax regulations for
print media after its first draft, submitted in mid April, was criticized for
providing inadequate relief. Although parliamentarians and journalists were
reluctant to speak about the details of original bill's wording, one newspaper
editor classified it as a stab in the back. This editor said the mid-April draft
would only have covered a few newspapers, saving them only small sums of money.
Also, it would have cost significantly more to implement the changes than it
would have saved.
Dushanbe, Tehran cooperate on Sangtuda power plant project
Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov received visiting Iranian Minister of Energy
Habibullo Betaraf on August 2nd. During the meeting it was noted that Tajikistan
and Iran have good potentials for expanding cooperation in the field of use of
water and energy resources, the presidential press service has reported.
"Under certain conditions, when neighbouring countries, first of all,
China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia and Kazakstan have needs in electric power,
cooperation on building the Sangtuda power plant in Tajikistan would meet the
interests both of Iran and Tajikistan," a spokesman for the Tajik
president, Abdufattoh Sharipov, quoted Rahmonov and Betaraf as saying at the
According to Sharipov, Rahmonov and Betaraf expressed hope that the upcoming
visit of Iranian President Said Muhammad Khatami to Tajikistan scheduled for
September of the current year will start works on the construction of the
Sangtuda power plant, and Tajikistan and Iran with their hydropower facilities
will hold sustainable positions on the markets of Central Asia and Russia.
According to data from the Tajik Ministry of Economy and Trade, Tajikistan's
exports to Iran amounted to US$18m (70% of the trade turnover between the two
countries). Joint construction of the Sangtuda hydroelectric power is
practicable and the working out of an agreement on financing of this project is
nearing completion, Iranian Energy Minister, Habibullo Betaraf, told Asia-Plus
News Agency following his meeting with President Rahmonov.
The Iranian minister recalled that an agreement between Tajikistan and Iran on a
joint project to complete the construction of the Sangtuda hydropower plant in
Tajikistan was signed last year.
The preparatory stage for the construction of this 660 megawatt plant has been
completed. Some US$400m of investments are necessary to complete the
construction of the plant.
Several other countries have announced their intention to join an international
consortium to build the Sangtuda power plant, Betaraf said. He also told
journalists that two memorandums had been signed during his visit to Tajikistan.
Under these memorandums, Iran is ready to participate in the construction of 15
small power plants in Tajikistan and cooperate in training of the Tajik energy
personnel, according to the Iranian energy official, press reports said.
Issues related to the prospects for exporting energy from Tajikistan and
launching a joint venture for studying hydraulic works and training of personnel
as well as enhancement of management of water resources in Tajikistan were
discussed. Iranian Minister of Energy Habibullo Betaraf visited the Tajik
aluminium plant and familiarised himself with a progress of the construction of
Sangtuda and Roghun hydropower plants and the Norak hydroelectric power station.
According to information from the Iranian embassy in Dushanbe, during the visit
to Tajikistan in September this year, Iranian President Khatami will take part
at a ceremony for the beginning of works on the construction of the Sangtuda
plant and will attend a summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) in
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Tajikistan, Moldova to up ties
Tajikistan and Moldova plan to sign a programme of long-term trade and economic
cooperation designed for 2004-2013. The draft programme has been sent for
consideration to the government of Tajikistan and the Tajik Ministry of Justice.
The draft programme provides for expansion of interaction between public
management organs of the two countries to expand cooperation between Tajikistan
and Moldova in such areas as the banking system, investing funds in the
industrial sector, efficient use and development of transport infrastructure and
development of humanitarian cooperation between the two countries, Asia-Plus
Besides, regulations on the Tajik-Moldavian intergovernmental commission for
trade and economic cooperation have been drafted and submitted for consideration
to the government and ministries of justice, industry, and economy and trade.
The economy and trade ministry source told Asia-Plus on July 15th that these
documents would be signed during a session of the Tajik-Moldavian
intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation, which is scheduled to be
held at the Moldavian capital, Chisinau, in November this year.
FOREIGN LOANS & AID
China to finance socio-economic projects in Tajikistan
China will provide 50m yuans (about US$6m) to Tajikistan in the form of grants.
An appropriate agreement "On Technical-Economic Cooperation" was
signed in Beijing on July 20th by the Tajik government, represented by Hakim
Soliyev, minister of economy and trade, and the Chinese government, represented
by Chzhan Chzhigan, deputy minister of commerce, Asia-Plus has reported.
It was recalled that a Tajik delegation had been on visit to China to attend a
session of the Tajik-Chinese intergovernmental commission for trade and economic
The economy and trade ministry source said that the commission's session in
Beijing had discussed issues related to the present state and further expansion
of economic and trade cooperation between Tajikistan and China and had summed up
the results of work having been carried out by the commission since its first
session, which was held in 2001.
During the visit to China, the Tajik delegation held a number of meetings with
senior representatives from some ministries and organisations to China to
discuss cooperation between the two countries in agrarian sector, energy,
Over the last 3 years, more than 10 Tajik-Chinese joint ventures have been
launched in Tajikistan.
According to official statistics, trade turnover between Tajikistan and China
over the first 6 months of the current year has amounted to more than
US$30.184m, which is twice as much compared to the same period of the previous
year. Tajikistan's exports to China amounted to little more than US$2.90m and
imports amounted to more than US$28.93m.
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