Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 311 - (29/11/06)
Tajikistan is a strategic country sharing a long border with
Afghanistan and is a close US ally in Washington's war against terror.
This is the one country Washington cannot possibly afford to lose. Without it
its campaign in Afghanistan would fall apart.
The Tajiks held a presidential election on November 6th, in which the incumbent
was easily re-elected - no big surprise in Central Asia. Tajikistan's election
commission the next day declared that President Emomali Rahmonov, who has ruled
the state since 1992, had won 79.3 per cent of the votes.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the EU have
criticized the vote for not fully meeting international standards for democratic
Rahmonov previous election victory was in November 1999, when he obtained 96 per
cent of the votes.
There is something playful about these electoral results in Central Asia. What
are these tyrants playing at? Pretending to be democrats. Everybody knows that
the whole affair is play-acting.
But there is a price for this hypocrisy, the price that vice pays to virtue. It
puts ideas in people's heads. A time will come when this is no longer possible.
A genuine democracy will emerge.
Actually, Rahmanov is far from the unloveliest of the Central Asian dictators.
Compared to his former Soviet neighbours, he is a decent man.
The West is welcoming his re-election as a factor of stability in an unruly
environment. So even is the East.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad felicitated his Tajik counterpart, Emomali
Rahmonov, on the latter's re-election. The Iranian president expressed hope
Tehran-Dushanbe amicable ties will receive a further boost in the near future.
He also hoped the Tajik president's re-election would boost efforts of Tajik
authorities to achieve greater prosperity for the Central Asian country, which
he describes as a "friend" of Iran.
President Rahmonov said Tajik foreign policy gives priority to expansion of ties
with the Islamic Republic of Iran. He further praised Iran's assistance in the
implementation of development projects in Tajikistan.
Tajik Government Resigns
Tajikistan's government has tendered its resignation to President Emomali
Rahmonov, who was re-elected for a third consecutive term earlier in early
November. It did this on November 22nd
Under the constitution, all cabinet ministers will continue fulfilling their
duties until a new government is formed.
This resignation is required by the constitution and does not necessarily mean
that there will be major changes.
President Emomali Rahmonov has been in power in Tajikistan since 1992.
During his tenure, he has shut down virtually all independent news media and
jailed several leading political opponents. According to the latest State
Department human rights report, corruption has also hampered democratic and
On other fronts, such as the war on terrorism, Tajikistan has been helpful by
providing NATO with an airbase for carrying out military operations in
Afghanistan. Tajikistan has also made progress in the fight against drug
trafficking, it is said, but some scepticism is in order here - it has long been
on the route from Afghan sources of opiates, north towards Russia and Europe .
In a statement, the OSCE said, "The campaign was almost invisible, with
media coverage concentrating on the incumbent in his role as president. In a
welcome initiative all candidates were offered free airtime and print space in
state media. They did not, however, use this opportunity to its full
Observers of the Tajik election also cited serious shortcomings during polling,
including widespread proxy voting, multiple voting, and identical signatures on
voter lists. Despite training provided to officials, voting and counting
procedures were often not followed and the turnout in places was improbably
high. It was after all, about getting the "big boss" confirmed in
Central Asia, says US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is a region in
transition. But the U.S. expects that countries like Tajikistan will work to
meet international standards for elections. That includes the participation of
the political opposition so that the people of Tajikistan have a genuine choice
at the ballot box.
Two alleged supporters of rebel leader stand trial for murdering general
The political situation in Tajikistan is illuminated by a trial just
beginning. Two alleged supporters of a Tajik rebel military officer who headed a
failed coup went on trial on November 21st on charges of killing a general,
The suspects are accused of the January killing of Maj. Gen. Khokimsho Khafizov,
the head of Tajikistan's military academy and former chief of special forces,
said Supreme Court judge Shavkat Abdulkhairov. Abdulkhairov said the defendants
are accused of being supporters of Colonel Makhmud Khudoiberdyev, who headed a
failed coup against President Emomali Rahmonov in 1997, when the country was in
the midst of a civil war, and in 1998 briefly seized the northern province of
Khudoiberdyev, who is allegedly hiding in neighbouring Uzbekistan, remains the
strongest secular opponent of Rahmonov, who recently won his third presidential
term in a vote boycotted by opposition parties and criticized by Western
observers as flawed.
Khafizov used to serve in the special forces under Khudoiberdyev's command, but
later switched to Rahmonov's side.
Several alleged supporters of Khudoiberdyev have been arrested and sentenced to
long prison sentences.
Tajik economy grows 7.6% year-on-year
Tajik gross domestic product grew 7.6 per cent year-on-year to 6.52 billion
somoni in the first nine months of 2006, the State Statistics Committee said,
Interfax News Agency reported.
Industrial output rose 6.2 per cent to 3.215 billion somoni over the period.
Output of consumer goods rose 7.2 per cent to 874.4 million somoni in the nine
months. Agricultural output grew 8.5 per cent to 2.41 billion somoni. Retail
trade rose 10.3 per cent in factory-gate prices to 1.964 billion somoni in the
nine months. The average exchange rate of the somoni against the US dollar was
3.2649 somoni in the period. The federal budget for January to August had a
surplus of 1.9 million somoni, or 0.04 per cent of GDP. Budget revenue and
grants stood at 1.024 billion somoni in the period and spending was 1.022
billion somoni. Tajikistan's foreign trade turnover grew 39.8 per cent or 634.4
million Euro year-on-year to 2.228 billion Euro in the first nine months of
2006, the State Statistics Committee said. Exports jumped 56 per cent or 361.5
million Euro to 1.007 billion Euro, and imports rose 28.8 per cent or 272.9
million Euro to 1.221 billion Euro. Tajikistan sent 86.6 per cent, or 872.2
million Euro, of total exports to non-CIS countries, but shipped 66.3 per cent,
or 809 million Euro of imports from CIS countries. Tajikistan had a foreign
trade deficit of 214 million Euro in the first nine months. Trade with fellow
CIS countries in the nine months grew to 944.6 million Euro, and trade with the
rest of the world rose to 1.283 billion Euro. There was a deficit of 674.9
million Euro in trade with the CIS, but a surplus of 461 million Euro with the
rest of the world. Natural gas imports from Uzbekistan totalled 424.7 million
cubic metres, worth 23.4 million Euro, down 9.6 per cent by volume, but up 17.2
per cent by value. Tajikistan exported 74,000 tonnes of cotton fibre in the nine
months for 79.5 million Euro; this was down 6,600 tonnes and 6.6 million Euro
from a year earlier. The country shipped 23.7 per cent of cotton fibre to
Latvia, 19.8 per cent to Iran, 19 percent to Kazakstan, 16.2 per cent to Russia
and 11.5 per cent to Uzbekistan. Industrial output grew 6.2 per cent
year-on-year to 3.215 billion somoni in Tajikistan in January to September 2006,
the State Statistics Committee was cited by Interfax as saying. Fuel and energy
production fell 1.3 per cent to 220.9 million somoni in the period. Output in
the metallurgical sector increased 9.8 per cent. Output in light industry fell
2.2 per cent to 375 million somoni. Cotton fibre production dropped 9.4 per cent
to 73,500 tonnes. Output of consumer goods rose 7.2 per cent to 874.4 million
somoni in the nine months.
Rahmonov envisages Rogun hydro to be built on its own
Tajikistan could complete the Rogun hydro plant on its own, Tajik President,
Emomali Rakhmonov, said at a conference on the regional electricity market,
Interfax News Agency reported.
"Efforts to complete the dam using budgeted money will start in 2007,"
Rahmonov said. He said the Rogun plant was currently valued at 804 million Euro.
"It will cost two billion Euro to finish the plant," he said, without
specifying whether Russian aluminium producer RusAl would be involved. An
agreement was reached with RusAl in October 2004 to finish building the plant.
Sharifkhon Samiyev, head of the state-owned Barki Tochik energy company, said
RUSAL had not paid due attention to the commencement of efforts to complete the
Rogun plant during that time and that Tajikistan now faced having to raise the
money itself. RusAl spokeswoman, Vera Kurochkina, told Interfax that RusAl had
over the last two years been "consistently implementing the understandings
reached and set down in the October 2004 agreement with Tajikistan's
government." "It's up to a Russian-Tajik intergovernmental commission
to resolve disputes regarding the parameters of the Rogun hydro-plant's
construction. The company has received recommendations to act strictly according
to the decisions reached at a working meeting of representatives of the national
sections of the commission on April 13th 2006.
In accordance with those decisions, Tajikistan received materials prepared by
the company Lahmaoar to use for an appraisal by an independent organisation
recommended by the World Bank," Kurochkina said. "The Russian side
anticipates that the appraisal will be performed soon and that the sides will,
at the next meeting of the Russian-Tajik commission, reach a final decision
regarding the technical aspects of the hydro-plant, the cost of the incomplete
construction and the equity stakes," she said. RusAl and Tajikistan signed
an agreement on cooperation in the power and aluminium sectors in October 2004.
RusAl said it intended to invest 2.2 billion Euro in the completion of the Rogun
plant, the construction of a new aluminium smelter and the retrofit of the
existing Tadaz smelter in the city of Tursunzade. The official ceremony to mark
the resumption of work at the projected 3,600-megawatt Rogun plant took place in
September 2005, but Tajikistan and RusAl differ over the height and type of the
dam and the extent of incomplete construction.
GDP to grow 7.2% in 2007, foreign debt by 2m
Tajikistan is accusing Russian aluminium giant RusAl of not honouring its
commitments to modernise the Tadaz aluminium smelter. "RusAl hasn't
invested anything in the smelter's modernization, despite its promises, and
hasn't signed one contract with Tadaz, and that company will never buy it,"
Sheraly Gulov, head of Tajikistan's State Property Committee, told a press
conference in Dushanbe, Interfax News Agency reported.
Gulov also reiterated the government's position, which was not to privatise the
region's only smelter, which has drawn interest from Russian aluminium producer
SUAL as well as RusAl, for the time being. "Tadaz is in the plan for
restructuring large enterprises and natural monopolies and there is no question
of it being privatised," Gulov said.
"Tadaz and the State Property Committee have drafted a plan to restructure
the enterprise and the government is considering this," he said. RusAl, for
its part, says that it is honouring all its commitments, but that it could not
start to modernize Tadaz until energy supply issues are resolved.
"The company is consistently fulfilling all commitments under an agreement
with the Republic of Tajikistan calling for the construction of the Rogun
hydroelectric dam, two pothouses at Tadaz and a new aluminium smelter,"
RusAl's press office said.
"A feasibility study has been drafted for the smelting capacity
construction, but building cannot begin until energy supplies have been secured,
and the Tajik side is not resolving this issue," RusAl said.
RusAl said in June this year that it planned to spend 50 million Euro
rehabilitating infrastructure related to the Rogun plant.
The company in October 2004 announced plans for major investment in Tajikistan,
including the completion of the 3,600-megawatt Rogun plant, the construction of
a new 200,000-tpy aluminium smelter and the modernisation of Tadaz.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Tehran to boost economic relations with Dushanbe
An Iranian delegation led by governor general of Iranian northeastern province
of Khorasan Razavi recently arrived in Dushanbe to launch a five-day exhibition
of Iranian products in Tajikistan, Interfax News Agency reported.
Over 50 joint Iranian-Tajik factories and companies have been registered in
Tajikistan, but the exact numbers currently operating in that country are not
revealed, the Persian service of ISNA told Interfax on October 27th. During a
joint session with Iranian entrepreneurs residing in the Central Asian country,
the Iranian delegation discussed ways to boost trade and economic relations
between the neighbouring countries. The Iranian official said that his country
is committed to help Iranian investors invest in different fields in Tajikistan,
in particular in the country's agricultural, industrial and mineral,
construction, tourism and processing industries. Meanwhile, Speaker of the
Tajikistan National Assembly Mahmadsaid Ubaydullayev and Dushanbe mayor
inaugurated Iran's first high-rise building project in Tajikistan. Iran has
started its first high rise construction project in Dushanbe in presence of a
number of officials. Under the housing and administrative project three 18-story
high rises will be built on 61,000 square metres of land, comprising 234 flats.