Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 317 - (30/05/07)
UN wants justice improvements
Tajikistan must take active steps to ensure there is wider access to justice and
it should also allow local and international monitors to visit places of
detention, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour
said today after concluding official talks in her visit to the country, the
second leg of her four-nation trip to Central Asia.
Ms. Arbour met with senior Tajik Government officials, including President
Emomali Rakhmon, Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi and Deputy Internal Affairs
Minister Rauf Yousoupov, during several days of talks in Dushanbe, the Tajik
She also spoke with Supreme Court Chairperson Nusratullo Abdulloev, Justice
Minister Bakhtyor Khudoyorov and Deputy Prosecutor-General Abdusami Dadabaev,
according to a statement issued by her office.
During these meetings Ms. Arbour discussed Tajikistan's ongoing reforms of its
justice system, particularly the areas of law enforcement, criminal procedures
and the independence of the judiciary.
The High Commissioner described access to justice as "a major challenge
that needs to be addressed in a participatory manner and in compliance with
international standards," and called on the Government to implement the
recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and
Lawyers, Leandro Despouy, after his visit in 2005.
Ms. Arbour also encouraged the Government to provide greater access for human
rights monitors, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),
to Tajikistan's places of detention, and suggested that the country consider
ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, which
contains a framework for monitoring places of detention.
Noting that Tajikistan has furnished reports required under six of the key human
rights instruments it has ratified, Ms. Arbour called on the Government to take
steps to ensure that the recommendations made by the experts who reviewed them
are fully implemented.
The High Commissioner also held meetings with Vladimir Sorokov, the Head of the
UN Tajikistan Office of Peacebuilding (UNTOP), as well as representatives of
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the diplomatic corps, political parties
and civil society groups.
Ms. Arbour urged the Government to "engage in a continuous dialogue"
with civil society groups and opposition parties and to "ensure democratic
space for their activities."
She wraped up her visit to Tajikistan on April 29th and then headed to
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as part of her efforts to increase OHCHR's efforts
in Central Asia. The first leg of her 11-day trip took her to Kyrgyzstan.
New partnership with Russia
Hamrokhon Zarifi, Tajikistan's foreign minister, recently confirmed that
Tajikistan's strategic interests are served mainly through its partnership with
Russia. "Russia was, is, and will remain our strategic partner and ally. We
have commitments to each other, and, on our part, we will strictly fulfil
them," he commented.
Nonetheless, his remarks appeared to be designed to deny Western media reports
that he was a "pro-Western foreign minister." He dismissed this,
preferring to be regarded instead as simply pro-Tajikistan. "We are
pragmatists and adhere to the open doors policy. We are ready to cooperate with
all countries, first of all, in the context of attracting investment to the
country, but on an equal footing, without any political pressure." Zarifi
cited the example of Tajikistan's economic cooperation with China, which has
invested around $1 billion in the Tajik economy (Itar-Tass, April 18).
There are conflicting signals from the Tajik government regarding its
relationship with Russia. On April 13 the Tajik Foreign Ministry officially
reported the change of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov's surname to "Rakhmon."
The Foreign Ministry press release stated, "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of Tajikistan officially informed the countries, with which Tajikistan has
diplomatic relations, of the change in the spelling of the surname of the
president of the Republic of Tajikistan from Emomali Rakhmonov to Emomali
In March, the Tajik leader wanted his surname to be pronounced as "Rakhmon."
The Tajik media immediately implemented the altered pronunciation of the
president's name. Rakhmon also ordered civilian registry offices to use Persian
names, dropping the Slavic endings of -ev and -ov when registering births. The
presidential press service indicated there would be a degree of personal choice
in this matter, although he clearly wants to promote a more independent and less
Russian-influenced view of Tajikistan (Interfax, April 13). President Rakhmon
wants strong relations with Russia, but evidently also wants to tap into the
Western assistance levels that have benefited his Central Asian neighbours since
Tajikistan is also receiving increased attention from EU states, and closer
bilateral and economic relations are developing as a result. President Rakhmon
and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas met in Dushanbe on April 17,
discussing bilateral cooperation. Vaitiekunas described Tajikistan as a
strategically important country for the EU, OSCE, and Lithuania. "It is
very important for stability in the region and for the fight against terrorism,
given that it is a kind of obstacle against drugs," he emphasized.
Agreements were signed promoting bilateral trade, as well as exploring the
export of Tajik products into the EU through a Lithuanian port (Tajik TV First
Channel, April 17).
Dushanbe is therefore positioning itself to appeal to Western countries
interested in the security and economic potential of the region, downplaying
problems within the Tajik security structures while advancing their case for
security assistance efforts. Tajikistan's armed forces face several severe
personnel problems. Six Tajik conscript servicemen died in the first quarter of
2007. Two of these committed suicide, according to Tajikistan's Military
Prosecutor's office. During the same period in 2006 the deaths of 15 servicemen
were recorded. The number of such fatalities within the armed forces is
apparently declining, although the authorities remain concerned by such
One area where the armed forces have made progress is in the reduction of
recorded military crimes. The number of crimes committed by officers, for
example, has almost halved compared to the first quarter of last year. There
were 37 crimes recorded in the armed forces in 2006, which is reportedly equal
to the figure for 2005. However, the most common crimes in the Tajik armed
forces relate to draft dodging, desertion, and abuse of office (Avesta, April
President Rakhmon is fully aware that Tajikistan needs foreign security
assistance, and he is also looking toward Washington. On April 13 Evan
Feigenbaum, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian
affairs, visited Dushanbe and emphasized the fight against terrorism, drugs,
crime, and corruption as the key priorities for U.S.-Tajik cooperation.
He pointed to the importance that Washington attaches to border security,
especially since the pull out of Russian border guards from Tajikistan in 2005.
Promising the continued commitment of U.S. policymakers to the security of
Tajikistan's borders, Feigenbaum asserted that around $40 million had been
allocated to support the enhancement of border security since 2005. Attempting
to allay fears of U.S. involvement in Tajikistan he explained, "Terrorism,
drugs, crime, corruption -- everything that constitutes a threat to the
stability of Tajikistan equally affects our own security."
Given the political unrest in Kyrgyzstan and the strained U.S.-Uzbek security
relationship since the Andijan massacre in May 2005, Washington is clearly more
interested in fostering its relations with Tajikistan. Yet Feigenbaum was keen
to stress the benevolent role of the United States in Central Asia,
"Central Asia is not an arena of competition for influence by external
powers, and Tajikistan, in turn, is not a target of the USA's geopolitical
struggle with anyone," he suggested (Itar-Tass, April 13). President
Rakhmon, traditionally cast as a reliable friend of Russia, may utilize his
newfound appetite for "pro-Tajik" posturing in order to pursue a more
genuinely "multi-vectored" approach to foreign policy.
Tajikistan will break a US$1 billion (€735 million) contract with Russian
aluminium giant OAO Rusal for a hydroelectric plant, after continuing problems
with the project, a top Tajik energy official said Thursday.
The Rogun dam, crucial for the impoverished Central Asian nation, has been
stalled from the outset by disputes between the government and Rusal. In
January, the Tajik government accused the company of failing to fulfil the
contract signed in 2004.
Sharifkhon Samiyev, head of the Tajik national energy company, said the
government now intends to create an international consortium to complete the
project. Russian companies, except Rusal, would be welcome to join, he added.
"There is a (government) decision to bar Rusal from working in the
country," Samiyev said.
But, Rusal's office in Tajikistan said the company remained committed to the
"We don't know of any changes from the Russian side in relation to our
participation in this project," a company statement said.
Tajikistan has long sought an investor to complete the dam on the Vakhsh River,
120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the capital, Dushanbe. Construction was
interrupted by the 1992-97 civil war.
The country's fast-flowing mountain rivers have a potential hydropower capacity
of 527 billion kilowatt hours a year, among the largest in the world, according
to international experts. Energy sales would bring a substantial boon to the
former Soviet republic, racked by rampant unemployment and problems caused by
increasing amounts of drugs being smuggled from neighbouring Afghanistan.
The plant's completion would substantially increase sales of electricity to
neighbouring China, as well as to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Russia's RAO Unified Energy Systems is involved in a US$480 million (363 million
Euro) project to complete another major hydroelectric plant in the country.
Consortium to build Rogun hydroelectric dam
Tajikistan plans to form an international consortium to finish building the
Rogun hydroelectric dam, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon said on April 30th,
Interfax News Agency reported.
Rakhmon said the government would give all applications to participate in the
consortium equal consideration.
"Hydropower plants, including Rogun, will be built by forming international
consortia," Rakhmon said in his annual address to the parliament.
"Interested companies will have to make applications to build and we will
look at them all," Interfax quoted him as saying.
Russian aluminium giant RusAl signed an agreement with Tajikistan to build the
3,600 MW Rogun plant, capable of generating 13 billion kilowatt-hours of
electricity, back in 2004. The official ceremony to mark the resumption of work
at the 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
and the work has yet to begin. It will cost an estimated US$1.3 billion to
finish building the plant.
RusAl also planned to build an aluminium smelter with the capacity of 200,000
tonnes of aluminium per year, as well as to acquire shares in Tajikistan's
existing state-owned smelter, which produces some 410,000 tonnes of aluminium
per year, when this is privatised. However, the company was denied the
opportunity to take part in the privatisation.
"Any private companies, including the state-owned and private companies and
the Tajik banks that I've already asked to calculate how much they will be able
to invest in the (hydropower) projects need to assess how much they can put into
these projects. They'll get ten-fold returns in five years," Rakhmon said.
"We expect investment of 4.5 billion somoni (US$1.3 billion) in this sector
in the next three years," he said.
Unified Energy System is building the Sangtuda hydropower plant in Tajikistan,
capacity 670 megawatts and annual output of 2.7 billion kilowatt hours at a cost
of US$534 million. It is ready to take part in the construction of the Rogun
dam, but is waiting for the leaders of the two countries to reach a political
United Company RusAl, formed in March this year through a merger between RusAl
and No. 2 Russian aluminium producer SUAL and the alumina-related assets of
Switzerland's Glencore International, said it was prepared to finish building
the Rogun plant without state funds.
"The Russian side is a full partner in the Rogun project with a 50 per cent
interest. In October 2004, when it signed the agreement with Tajikistan on the
implementation of this project, Russia decided who would participate on Russia's
behalf, and RusAl became that participant," RusAl spokeswoman Vera
Kurochkina told Interfax on May 2nd.
"We know nothing of any changes with respect to our participation in this
project on Russia's behalf as an equal partner in the project," Kurochkina
said. "All of RusAl's activity as a partner representing Russia in this
project has, for three years, been performed in full compliance with the
understandings set down by the agreement and with the Russian government's
support," Kurochkina said.
"We've devoted three years to this project and have performed a feasibility
study. Entry into the project by anybody else would effectively mean going back
to square one and losing those three years. RusAl is prepared to build the Rogun
plant and intends to do this without any state budgeted funding," she said.
US to provide 50 million in aid to Tajikistan
The United States will provide 50 million Euro in aid to Tajikistan this year as
a token of appreciation of the country's assistance to the anti-terrorist
coalition in Afghanistan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and
Central Asian Affairs, Evan Feigenbaum, said on April 14th, New Europe reported.
Speaking at the conference "The Present and Future of US-Tajik
Relations" held to mark the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations
between the two countries, Feigenbaum told Interfax. US financing for Tajikistan
will be no longer be classified as humanitarian aid, but as money for
development assistance, he said.
Russia still a key strategic partner
Stressing that Russia and Tajikistan have serious obligations to each other,
Tajik Foreign Minister, Khamrokhon Zaripov, recently said at a conference that
Russia will always remain a strategic partner, Interfax News Agency reported.
Tajikistan intends to stick to the previous agreements between the two
countries, Zaripov told Interfax. "Tajikistan has been pursuing an
open-doors policy, and I fulfil presidential orders, with whom we have no
divergence of opinion. We have no changes in foreign policy: Russia was and is
Tajikistan's key strategic partner," he was quoted as saying. Russia is
Tajikistan's strategic ally as Tajikistan hosts Russia's biggest military base
abroad as well as the Okno space monitoring centre, transferred by Tajikistan to
Russia in lieu of debt payment.