Category Archives: News

RFERL: “The Happiest Member Of The Rahmon Family”

The nine children of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, seven daughters and two sons, are doing quite well.

For example, oldest daughter Ozoda Rahmon, 40, is the head of the Tajik president’s executive office; third daughter Rukhshona Rahmonova, 26, is the deputy head of the Foreign Ministry’s international organizations department; sixth daughter Zarina Rahmon, 23, is deputy head of Tajikistan’s largest commercial bank, Orienbonk; and oldest son Rustam Emomali, 30, is the mayor of Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe.

They undoubtedly have good lives, but the member of the family who seems to be having the most fun lately is President Rahmon’s second son, Somon Emomali. Or at least the photos and videos posted on his Instagram page indicate this 18-year-old is having a great time.

But, before you look, remember: Tajikistan has the lowest average monthly salary of the former Soviet republics — the equivalent of about $175. Some people, especially some pensioners, are living on much less than that.

Officially, Tajikistan’s population is some 8.6 million, out of which probably more than 1 million working-age citizens are migrant laborers in Russia or Kazakhstan, legally and illegally, because they could not find decent employment in Tajikistan. Only about a half of Tajikistan’s population has access to clean drinking water.

And, to be fair, Somon does not have a wristwatch collection that could compare to the wristwatches Ibabekir Bekdurdyev, the 28-year-old husband of one of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov’s nieces, owns.

February 10, 2018

rferl.org

Eurasianet: “Tajikistan: Opposition Leader Tried in Absentia”

Tajikistan: Opposition Leader Tried in Absentia

A spokesman for the court declined to state what Muhiddin Kabiri is charged with, saying those details are a “state secret.”

Tajikistan’s Supreme Court has begun hearings in a criminal trial against the exiled leader of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party, or IRPT, Muhiddin Kabiri.

RFE/RL’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi, reported on February 1 that Supreme Court spokesman Shermuhammad Shohiyon declined to specify what exact charges Kabiri is actually facing, saying the matter is a state secret.

Kabiri lives in Germany, where he has received political asylum.

IRPT representatives have told Eurasianet that they too do not know what charges Kabiri is facing. The speculated that the accusations might include terrorism, extremism, attempting to topple power through violent means, polygamy and fraud. IRPT has always denied all such accusations of criminality.

In 2017, Tajikistan adopted changes to the law allowing the courts to carry out trials in absentia and to conduct criminal investigations against people outside the country.

Opposition politicians forced to flee overseas maintain that the changes have been adopted specifically with them in mind.

In actual fact, the looser requirements for trials in absentia have also been deployed against people suspected of enlisting in the Islamic States militant group. In some cases, it is not even known whether the people on trial are still alive or not.

The clear danger of this approach is that the need for presenting convincing evidence is quite absent, as illustrated by one recent case.

Last week, a court in the Khatlon region sentenced Shamsiddin Saidov, an IRPT activist now living in Europe, to 15 years in jail. Saidov was found guilty of charges that included terrorism and extremism.

“There is evidence of the defendant’s involvement in terrorism. Nine witnesses were questioned. Photographic evidence was also presented in which he was seen sitting next to Kabiri,” a spokesman for the court told the media.

The IRPT was vaguely tolerated by Tajik authorities until September 2015, when the government embarked on a full-on onslaught against the party, which was at the time the last viable opposition force in the country. Officials said the party was involved in an alleged attempted coup that took place that month. No reliable evidence for the coup having actually taken place has ever been made public.

Following the crackdown, at least 12 senior IRPT members were jailed and sentenced to long prison terms. Kabiri was the only leadership figure to evade arrest as he was out of the country at the time.

Feb 2, 2018

eurasianet

Fergananews:”High-Ranking Member of Tajik Islamic Renaissance Party Sentenced in Absentia”

A provincial court in Tajikistan has convicted Shamsiddin Saidov in absentia to 15 years in prison, Ozodi Radio reports. Saidov is a former member of the political council of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (PIVT).

Saidov was found guilty of extremism, terrorism and other crimes. The court heard nine witnesses and considered photographs on which Saidov is pictured sitting next to the PIVT leader, Mukhiddin Kabiri.

According to open sources, Saidov joined PIVT in the 1980s when the party was still operating underground. The authorities arrested him after one of the anti-Soviet protests in 1986 and forcibly deported him to Siberia.

When the civil war broke out in Tajikistan, Saidov left for Afghanistan where he represented PIVT’s leader at the time, Said Abdullo Nuri who died in 2006.

After the war in 1997, Saidov returned to his homeland and joined the National Reconciliation Commission. Until 2010 he led the International Department of PIVT. Saidov lives abroad now.

In 2017, Tajikistan passed a number of reforms amending the criminal legislation in order to allow convictions in absentia for especially dangerous criminals hiding abroad. Some observers noted at the time that the amendments seemed designed specifically to persecute PIVT leaders who had fled abroad. However, the authorities categorically denied such an interpretation of the legislative changes.

Until September 2015, PIVT had been the only officially functioning religious party in the post-Soviet space for 16 years. In August 2015, the Ministry of Justice of Tajikistan demanded PIVT to cease its activities. And in September, the republic’s authorities accused the PIVT leadership of involvement in a military mutiny led by the former Deputy Minister of Defense, Abdukhalim Nazarzoda.

The Supreme Court then labelled the party a terrorist organization and ordered the arrest of its leadership. In June 2016, the court sentenced 14 members of PIVT’s political council to various prison terms, two of them for life.

The party leader. Muhiddin Kabiri, left the republic right after the parliamentary elections on 1 March 2015 – six months before the “rebellious” events of September. He later said that he had fled fearing that he would face a criminal case fabricated against him at home.

In September 2016, Interpol’s website listed the name of Kabiri among its wanted suspects. Nevertheless, the leader of the PIVT announced his intention to continue the activities of the party in exile. Kabiri rejects all charges against PIVT – he thinks that the September insurgency was the reason for the ban on the activities of the Islamic party.

January 26,2018

Fergana News Agency

Asia-Plus: “Imam-khatib of Tajik mosque in accuses Iran in deaths of 150,000 Tajiks”

Imam-khatib of a mosque in the Hakimi jamoat of the Nourobod district (Rasht Valley), Abdusattor Yusupov, accuses Iran in deaths of 150,000 nationals of Tajikistan.

In an article that was posted on the website of the Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA) under the Government of Tajikistan, Yusupov claims that the civil war in Tajikistan was provoked by Iran and under its financial support.

According to him, 150,000 nationals of Tajikistan were killed in that war.

Yusupov calls on the people of Tajikistan to be vigilant and rally around the Leader of the Nation President.

He says that Iran supports the Islamic revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), which is banned in Tajikistan as a terrorist organization.

Recall, it is not the first such an accusation made against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A paper by Qamar Nourulhaqov, an employee of the Center for Islamic Studies under the President of Tajikistan, titled Shiism: Ideology and Practice that was posted on Center’s website on October 20 and 21, 2017, accuses Iran of imposing its religious ideology on Tajikistan and attempting to export the Islamic revolution to Tajikistan.  For this purpose, Iran has supported the IRPT for many years, the author says.

The paper in particular, notes that impasse in once friendly relationships between Tajikistan and Iran has been caused by Iran’s attempt to Islamize Tajik society and propagates ideas of Shiism.  A general sense of the paper comes to the fact that the author demands that Iran stop its “political-and –religious game” in Tajikistan.

Tajikistan and Iran have traditionally close relations, sharing many similar cultural, religious and ethnic identifiers and Iran has been a major sponsor of essential hydropower infrastructure in Tajikistan, but Iran has angered Tajikistan by welcoming IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who is wanted by police in Tajikistan to face various terrorism charges.

Recall, Iran invited IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri to attend the International Islamic Unity Conference that took place in Tehran on December 27-29, 2015.

Tajikistan’s MFA said in a statement on December 29, 2015 that it was “greatly concerned” that “the head of the extremist and terrorist former IRPT, Muhiddin Kabiri, who faces charges of attempting to overthrow the government … has been invited to the conference.”

In April 2016, Tajikistan’s customs service introduced restrictions on the import of food products from Iran.  Dry leaf tea, poultry and other goods were ruled unacceptable for their allegedly poor quality.  In July 2016, the Tajik office of Iran’s Khomeini Imdod Committee, an international development fund, closed.  In early July this year, the Iranian trade and culture center in the Tajik northern city of Khujand, which was particularly appreciated for its library services and fast internet, closed its doors.  The shuttering reportedly came at the request of the Tajik authorities.

In August 2017, Tajik authorities have accused Iran of backing high-profile killings in Tajikistan during the Tajik civil war in the 1990s. In a documentary broadcast on Tajik national television on August 8, the Interior Ministry of Tajikistan claimed that Iran was allegedly interested in unleashing civil war in Tajikistan, and it allegedly provided assistance to the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) and trained its militants in Iranian territory.  The documentary also accused Iran of involvement in the murder of several Tajik social and political figures as well as 20 Russian military officers in the country during the 1990s Tajik civil war. The documentary further claimed that at the time, Iran had organized a plot to “eliminate Tajik scientists and intellectuals.

Iran’s Embassy in Dushanbe on August 9, 2017 released a statement, in which it dismisses “unfounded claims made in the documentary.”  The statement posted on the Embassy’s website, in particular, described such claims as ‘regrettable’ saying there is no doubt that the documentary’s producers will not be able to mar cultural bonds and historic friendship between the two nations of Iran and Tajikistan.

It added that the noble nation of Tajikistan will never forget that Iran as one of the main founders and guarantors of Tajikistan’s peace and host of talks between the country’s conflicting sides, has played a constructive role in ending Tajikistan’s civil wars in 1990.

News.tj

Author: Asia-Plus

1 January 2018

“Iran warns Central Asia may be Daesh’s next target”

TEHRAN – The defeat of Daesh (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria has made the terrorist group to change the geography of its activities and Central Asian countries must be watchful of this threat, Iranian Ambassador to Tajikistan Hojjatollah Faghani warned in a meeting with Tajik Parliament speaker Shukurjon Zuhurov in Dushanbe on Sunday.

Faghani also voiced Iran’s willingness to share experiences with Tajikistan in counter-terrorism efforts.

Ambassador Faghani and Shukurjon Zuhurov also discussed ways to expand mutual relationship.

The two sides also discussed parliamentary cooperation and reviewed the latest regional and international developments, IRNA reported.

Referring to a recent visit to Tajikistan by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as well as the holding of a joint economic commission meeting in Dushanbe, Faghani said relations between the two countries are rapidly gaining momentum.

The Iranian diplomat also highlighted the need to exchange parliamentary delegations and friendship groups.

The Tajik speaker, for his part, said Dushanbe attaches special importance to ties with Iran in view of the two countries’ common language and historical and cultural commonalities.

He assessed the future of bilateral relations as promising.

On November 9, Foreign Minister Zarif met with President Emomali Rahmon in Dushanbe to discuss ways to improve economic and trade relations and coordinate their counterterrorism efforts in the region. Zarif also participated in the inauguration ceremony of Iran’s new embassy building in the Tajik capital.

Iran News
02.01.2018

EURASIANET: “Tajikistan: International Callers Hit by Move to Throttle Hi-Tech”

Ilhom Nodirov, 25, has been working in Berlin for the past three years, but technology has made keeping in touch with his family in Tajikistan a low-cost affair. As of earlier this month, that all changed.

Authorities are resorting to a heavy-handed method to crush money-saving methods for long-distance communication, citing purported security concerns. Sources inside the state agency responsible for regulating the telephone and Internet sector say that the government’s real motive is to ramp up revenues.

A hugely popular technology known as the next-generation network, or NGN, has for several years enabled phone users to avoid racking up huge bills. People in Tajikistan can open an account with one of several telecommunications service providers and then pass on the log-in details to relatives and friends abroad. The foreign-based caller installs an app on their phone and whenever they are connected to the Internet, they can make their call. All that is then charged is the amount it would cost to make a local call inside Tajikistan.

The appeal is obvious. Nodirov told EurasiaNet.org that at tariffs of 0.10 somoni ($0.01) per minute, he has been able to chat with his relatives for endless hours. If somebody made a regular phone call from Tajikistan to Germany, meanwhile, it would cost 1.40 somoni ($0.15) per minute.

The particular attractiveness of this method is that only one side in the transaction needs be connected to a reliable Internet network. In Tajikistan, the quality of Internet connection is often poor and the penetration patchy in the regions, so programs like Skype are not always feasible.

The ability to save money on long-distance calls is particularly important in Tajikistan, where hundreds of thousands of people travel abroad every year for work. Around 1 million people in the country used NGN services, according to official figures.

On December 18, the Communications Services Agency informed all telecommunications companies in the country to suspend access to NGN accounts.

Authorities had hinted strongly that this was coming a few weeks earlier. On December 15, they decided to drive the message by having bailiffs seal the main premises of Vavilon-T, an Internet provider prized for its particularly good speeds. They cited concerns over the company’s NGN services as their motivation. Within three days, the company complied. Almost all the other industry peers have fallen in line too.

Nodirov’s parents are elderly and struggle to master the intricacies of using smartphone messaging apps. The only way they will be able to keep in touch with their son now is by returning to much more expensive, old-fashioned phone calls, Nodirov said.

These days, Nodirov speaks to his parents in brief bursts, to make sure all is well with them. “If before I spent about 30 somoni a month on speaking to my parents, in the five days [after December 18], I already spent 50 somoni,” he said. “We don’t talk the way we used to, for ages and ages, to find out everything that is going on, but just for five minutes.”

Tajikistan’s communications regulators have devised multiple ways to put the squeeze on telephone companies and their clients over the years. In 2016, they claimed to have created a telecommunications node dubbed the Unified Electronic Communications Switching Center, or EKTs in its Russian language acronym. This system purportedly funneled any type of telecommunications-based exchange – be it by phone or Internet – through a powerful computer.

It is not known beyond all certainty, however, if this system actually exists or whether the government has simply claimed it does to convey the illusion of powerful surveillance capabilities.

More significantly, immaterial of whether the EKTs is actually real or not, the communications agency levies 0.20 somoni ($0.022) for every minute of outgoing phone calls to fund the upkeep of the would-be node.

These stories are grist to the mill of those critics of the Communications Services Agency who grumble that this government body is little more than a money-making racket.

The agency is run by Beg Sabur – né Beg Zukhurov; he adopted a new moniker in line with a craze a few years ago for refashioning names to more closely fit Tajik custom. He is a relative by marriage of President Emomali Rahmon, and his agency’s access to copious sources of revenue has seen it branch into multiple other areas of business, including construction and the hotel industry.

Attempts by the media to gently probe the agency’s activities are met with intense hostility. When an article about the imminent change of policy on NGN appeared in the local media earlier this month, representatives of several telecommunications companies were summoned to the communications regulator’s office for a dressing-down and faced veiled threats of prosecution in the event of more leaks to the press.

All industry insiders that spoke to EurasiaNet.org for this article did so on condition of anonymity.

Trends in the industry would appear to illustrate why the government is eager to quash a cost-saving form of technology. In 2016, Tajik mobile phone subscribers made 150-million-minutes worth of international calls every month. That represents a big drop. According to official data, over the past four years, the volume of international calls has fallen by 70 percent.

Fewer long-distance calls mean lower revenues for the communications agency.

“International voice calls are already yesterday’s news because after the appearance of NGN, [and messaging apps like] Viber, WhatsApp and so on, the volume of international calls has fallen sharply,” one manager at a telecommunications company told EurasiaNet.org. “Rather than call Russia at 1.2 somoni [a minute], it is easier for customers to have megabytes and to talk to their relatives for free. If we used to make our money through voice calls, now we are concentrating more on the Internet, and that is a global trend.”

Communications regulators insist the move against NGN is strictly about security.

“People buy accounts and go to Afghanistan and Syria, and their relatives talk to them as though they were in Tajikistan,” a communications agency representative told EurasiaNet.org.

There is mounting speculation that next in line will be messaging apps like Viber and WhatsApp, which operate on a slightly different principle than NGN. While the communications service representative would not confirm whether they would try to block those apps outright, he said that they needed to be strictly regulated to “preserve stability.”

Attempts to implement outright blockages of Internet-based resources have proven quixotic in the past, however. Facebook has been blocked on several occasions in Tajikistan, only for a growing number of people to learn how to use simple ban-circumventing techniques. Clamping down on one app simply drives telephone users to another, as a source at another Tajik mobile company told EurasiaNet.org.

“Voice communication on WhatsApp was blocked in the [United Arab Emirates], but you could still talk perfectly normally through Telegram,” the source said. “The more smartphones there are around, the more services will enter our lives, and limiting them is not possible. People who are not willing to overpay for voice communications will find some way to get around the restrictions.”

Eurasianet

December 22, 2017

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