Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 299 - (28/11/05)
Everything in Tajikistan revolves around one man, its dictator. This is of
course the norm in Central Asia, except now in Afghanistan, thanks to 9:11 and
the US, and in Kyrgyzstan. It is worth giving an account of him in full.
Emomali Rahmonov is Tajik, was born in 1952 in the Dangara settlement of the
Kulob Region, where he was to become a powerful functionary. He graduated from
the Tajik State University; and became an economist by specialty, although not,
as we shall see, by profession. He naturally enough for anyone seeking a career
joined the Communist Party and was to become Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the
Republic of Tajikistan.
But before reaching such heights, he showed himself a true communist by becoming
a proletarian. He began his professional activity in 1971 as an electrician of
the creamery of Kurgan-Tube city. Since 1972-1974 he served in the Soviet Army.
After demobilization he continued working at the creamery.
In 1976-1988 his rise was very marked. First he became the Chairman of the Trade
Union Committee of the Collective Farm of the Dangara Region, a vast enterprise.
He became very active in Party councils.
In June 1988 he became director of the Lenin State Farm of the Dangara Region, a
shift sideways. In November 1992, however, he was elected Chairman of the
Executive Committee of the Kulob Regional Council of People Deputies. His rise
was now to be meteoric.
In November 1994 in the XVI session of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of
Tajikistan of XII Convocation Rahmonov was elected Chairman of the Supreme
Soviet. Shortly afterwards, he was elected President of the Republic of
Tajikistan. In November, 1999 he was re-elected President for a period of seven
years in accordance with the changes introduced in the Constitution in
He is married and has nine children, demonstrating an all-round potency.
Regime tightens its grip
President Rahmonov has tightened his grip on power in recent months - a fact
underscored by the landslide victory by the president's People's Democratic
Party in parliamentary elections in February. When opposition leaders cried foul
over the vote, Rahmonov simply brushed their complaints aside.
The reality is that government pressure on opposition leaders and independent
media outlets is continuing as Tajikistan prepares for presidential elections in
Critics of the president say Rahmonov is intent on securing another seven-year
presidential term, and is thus acting to eliminate potential presidential
rivals, and ensure that major mass media outlets stay largely under
administration control. Administration officials dismiss such complaints.
Human rights activists and many political experts in Dushanbe believe the
ongoing trial of Mahmadruzi Iskandarov -- the head of the Tajik Democratic Party
and the former head of the state gas company, Tojikgaz -- is politically
motivated. Iskandarov, whose trial began August 2, faces eight criminal charges,
including abuse of power, embezzlement and forgery. He also alleged to have
acted as a warlord, amassing arms and a small private security force that
supposedly engaged in criminal activity.
On September 12, Tajikistan's Supreme Court granted a motion by Iskandarov, to
call additional witnesses. Among those Iskandarov's defence team now intends to
call are Gen. Saidamir Zukhurov, MP Khojiakbar Turajonzoda and Chairman of the
Tourism Committee, Salamsho Mukhabbatov.
In presenting the motion, Iskandarov claimed that prosecutors were trying to
suppress the presentation of evidence that could help him secure an acquittal.
"The witnesses who could help the defence are not taking part in the
trial," Iskandarov told the court, according to a September 12 report
distributed by the Avesta News Agency. Iskandarov maintains that Tajik
authorities kidnapped him in Russia and brought him back to Dushanbe to stand
trial. Iskandarov was originally taken into custody by Russian officials on an
international arrest warrant, but he was later released on April 3. About a week
later he disappeared, only to resurface in Tajik official custody. Supporters
have demanded an official explanation as to how the Democratic Party leader
ended up in a Dushanbe jail. Authorities have not provided a detailed account of
the circumstances surrounding his arrest.
Meanwhile, the late August conviction of Mukhtar Bokizoda, editor of the
opposition newspaper Nerui Sukhan, has had a chilling effect on independent
journalists in Tajikistan, rights activists suggest. Bokizoda received a
two-year sentence for supposedly illegally diverting electricity to keep the
newspaper operating. Nerui Sukhan has not been published since early 2005, when
authorities closed down the independently-operated Kaiho Publishing House for
alleged tax evasion. Bokizoda insists that the charge against him was fabricated
with the intention of putting the newspaper out of business.
The crackdown on independent media outlets in Tajikistan has caught the
international community's attention. In early September, Miklos Haraszti, the
OSCE's representative on media freedom, called on the Tajik government to
"urgently reverse the current media situation." He noted that in
addition to Nerui Sukhan, three other independent newspapers had been forced to
cease operations, along with two publishing houses. Haraszti also voiced a
desire for Rahmonov's administration to issue new broadcast licenses.
World Audit our sister web site, currently ranks Tajikistan for democracy at 136
out of 150; Freedom House place them at 127 for Press freedom and their
Corruption ranking by Transparency International is 129. This is not a nation
within any discernible distance of achieving democracy unless a 'colour'
revolution were to take place. The regime and their Russian patrons are totally
aware of this, so before the presidential elections in 2006, all the restrictive
methods relating to foreign NGO's and any other potential centres of democratic
organisation will be effectively shackled; the media as described above is
already emasculated; Opposition politicians are or will be in jail or in exile.
There will, or so we will be told, have been a 99% turnout with perhaps 97%
voting for Rahmonov and business will continue as usual - except in one respect.
The State Department has a vested interest in the democracy programme and no
doubt OSCE will attempt to monitor the election; yet the Pentagon has even more
of an interest in not rocking the boat of internal Tajik politics. After all,
the tenure of their military base is necessarily fragile, given the opposition
to it of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (Russia and China). The tensions
will be not in this remote central Asian county where the election seems a
foregone conclusion, but in Washington between State and Defence, as seen
recently in Uzbekistan when Condaleeza effectively had her way. This time we tip
State to back off and the Pentagon to come out on top.
Foreign trade increases US$35.8 million
The Central Asian Republic of Tajikistan's foreign trade turnover expanded by
2.3 per cent in January-September 2005 year-on-year to US$1.59 billion.
According to the State Statistics Committee, Tajikistan exported an estimated
US$643.3 million worth of goods, or US$30.3 million less than in the same period
last year. Imports increased by US$66.1 million to US$946 million. Therefore,
the trade balance was negative at US$302.6 million. Tajikistan mainly exported
goods to the Netherlands (53.5 per cent), Turkey (11.5 per cent), Russia (8.2
per cent), Uzbekistan (6.6 per cent), Latvia (4.3 per cent), and Iran (3.9 per
cent). Tajikistan largely imported goods from the Commonwealth of Independent
States, with Russia accounting for 18.4 percent, Kazakstan for 12.9 per cent,
Uzbekistan for 12.7 per cent, Azerbaijan for 7.7 per cent, and Ukraine for 6.1